The Relationship Between Hispanics And Alcohol

Hispanics DrinkingMaking up 50 million people or 16% of the population of the United States of America, the Hispanics are the largest and the fastest growing ethnic group there. According to research, this group also has varying drinking habits as compared to those of non-Hispanics whites as well as other ethnic and racial groups. The key to effective prevention, intervention, and treatment programs meant for Hispanics lies in understanding these differences.

How high is the level of drinking among Hispanics?

In general, non-Hispanic whites drink more than Hispanics with the latter having higher abstinence rates as far as alcohol is concerned.  However, those Hispanics that do drink usually tend to drink more alcohol than non-Hispanic whites do.

How can you predict drinking behavior among Hispanics?


People adapt to new belief, value, and behavioral system in a new cultural environment through this process. The level of acculturation is usually a reliable way of determining drinking patterns among people of the Hispanic community. In order for such people to adapt to the American culture while living and working in the United States, they will raise their families here, learn to speak English and get an American education. Unfortunately, the higher the acculturation levels, the higher the alcohol consumption. This also applies to consumption in drinks in Canada. Research shows that women tend to drink more alcohol as they become more acculturated to the American life. For mean, the results are a bit mixed.


Away from small family gatherings and other private settings, traditional Hispanic women usually avoid taking alcohol. This cultural attitude is however, changing for Hispanics living in the United States. Recent research shows that there are less young Hispanic men drinking as compared to some of their female counterparts.


According to recent research evidence, apart from those who are Protestants, young U.S born Hispanic men have more relaxed attitudes toward alcohol drinking. People in this category tend to drink heavily and more often thereby having more alcohol related problems. Cuban Americans tend to have more rigid attitude toward alcohol as opposed to their Puerto Ricans and Mexican American counterparts.

Drinking Trends based on country of origin

The country of origin affects the drinking trends among Hispanics with Puerto Ricans being the worst drinkers and Cubans the lowest level drinkers for men. For women Mexicans as the least drinkers while Puerto Ricans have the biggest drinking problem. Beer, wine, then liquor respectively is the preferred beverage across all Hispanic national groups.


Repercussions of heavy drinking

Alcohol dependence

In comparison with 13.8% non-Hispanic whites, 9.5% of Hispanics will have alcohol dependence issues in their lifetime. However, 33% of Hispanics with those issues will have recurring problems compared to 22.8% of non-Hispanic whites.

Drunk driving

South/Central American men and Mexican American men and women are more likely to receive DUI citations among Hispanics who drink alcohol. Between 1992-2002, the number of Hispanic men of ages 18-29 who received DUIs went down but those of Hispanic women within the same age group went up.

Liver Disease

Hispanic men tend to develop liver disease at higher rates. In fact, white Hispanics have the highest levels if alcohol related liver cirrhosis, which is a serious problem as compared to other ethnic and racial groups. Black Hispanic men from the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba on the other hand, have the lowest levels of liver cirrhosis compared to non-Hispanic whites.

Do Hispanics look for treatment from alcohol problems?

In the US, about 8.3% of Hispanics needed alcohol related treatment in the last year (based on data gathered between 2002-2007). 7.7% of these people did receive the treatment they needed in a specialist facility.

Based on limited research done, Hispanics who speak English and have been acculturated largely into the American life can be helped by the treatment. Unfortunately, Hispanics with alcohol dependence problems are less likely to get the treatment in the first place compared to non-Hispanic whites. Even though Alcoholics anonymous has groups run in Spanish free, Hispanics are still less likely to join them.

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