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Drinking Problem Differs Among Hispanic Groups

Alcohol abuse and alcohol-related issues actually vary among Hispanic groups, according to Dr. Raul Caetano, MD, MPH, PhD, Senior Research Scientist at the Prevention Research Center of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation.

Drinking Problem: New Study On Hispanic Groups

“In general, what you see is a higher level of drinking and binge drinking among Puerto Ricans and Mexican Americans, compared with Cuban-Americans and South/Central Americans,” explains Dr. Raul Caetano.

Out of all three groups, Cuban-Americans had a lower rate of drinking heavily in comparison to Puerto Ricans and Mexican Americans, stated Dr. Caetano, when he spoke recently at the annual meeting of the Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse (AMERSA).

Another interesting study that Dr. Caetano conducted was the difference in drinking between the Mexican-Americas who live along the U.S.-Mexico border and those who lived off the border. What he found was that young women and men, between the ages of 18 and 29, who lived near the border had more alcohol abuse issues and alcohol-related problems than those who did not.

“We were able to verify that increased drinking in this age group along the border was closely associated with attendance at bars. We saw increased drinking on the Mexican side of the border, where the legal drinking age is 18, but we also saw increased drinking at bars on the U.S. side of the border,” he stated. He says he hopes the findings will be used to implement regulatory practices for controlling hours of alcohol sales, enforcing the legal drinking age, and working with bar owners to try to curb promotions such as two-for-one drinks and nights where women drink for free.

One of the reasons that Dr. Caetano believes differentiates Hispanic groups’ drinking patterns is the cultural acceptance of drinking.  He suggested that Mexicans have a history of participating in what is known as fiesta drinking, which is essentially a pattern of a more infrequent drinking, but when they do drink, it’s done in excess.

The main reason Dr. Caetano explored this study was because the federal government puts each national group together under the umbrella term, “Hispanic“. “We knew they were very different because drinking in their countries is very different,” he explained. “But there were no consistent large-scale analyses that could show what the differences were.”

New studies are just starting to be conducted on the drinking habits and rates among those living in Puerto Rico. Dr. Caetano’s plans for the future are to compare data on those Puerto Ricans who live on the island and those who were born on the U.S. mainland. Based on his previous analysis he believes that Puerto Ricans who were born on the mainland drink more than those on the island, but his new study will help confirm his theory.

As more research is done we will begin to explore various drinking patterns among different groups and locations. This could not only help us better understand the disease of alcoholism and it’s development, but it could also help educate so that prevention methods could be put into place for future generations.

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