What are the Race Demographics Statistics on Alcoholism?

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Author: Thomas Roth

Last Updated: 1/16/2022

The United States Census report indicates that one-third of all Americans are in a minority group, which is a group of people that's not caucasian. In the United States, Hispanics, African Americans, and Asian Americans make up the largest minority groups. While minority groups don't make up a majority of the population, they do account for addiction rates that exceed double digits (in some cases). For these reasons, it's important to explore and understand how race, culture, and demographics play into alcoholism and addiction.

1. American Indian and Alaska Native 

American Indian and Alaska Natives are populations of people who are native to the United States and North America. These races have been present in North America longer than any other race, which is where the phrases "Native American" and "Alaska Native" come from. These population groups have an addiction rate of 14.9%.

That said, Native Americans and Native Alaskans are known for abusing more substances than other races present within the United States. This has also led to an uptick in mental illness across the population, which has organizations like Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) concerned. For example, SAMHSA reports that Native American and Native Alaskan mental health rates are higher than other populations and that this leads to increased chances of suicide.

Another study found that Native Americans and Native Alaskans are twice as likely to require aid for their addiction. This means that these populations are often found in rehab centers, medical treatment centers, and sometimes hospitals for their substance abuse. In fact, a study monitored by SAMHSA discovered that three-quarters of Native Americans and Native Alaskans have received treatment for an addiction problem.

Many members of Native American and Native Alaskan populations fare well in inpatient rehabilitation centers and programs. These groups do well in these locations because of their history of mental illness and high risk of suicide.

2. Hispanic or Latino 

The Hispanic population is one of the fastest-growing populations in the United States. Immigrants come from Central America and South America and many of these migrants come from nations with troubled leadership. Therefore, many Hispanic populations that migrate to the United States have high rates of mental health disorders, an increased suicide risk, and a higher chance of consuming large quantities of alcohol. In fact, one study found that 24.7% of Hispanic individuals reported that they participated in binge drinking in 2014 (within the past month). The study was conducted by SAMHSA and was conducted because binge drinking is an indication of alcoholism and dangerous behavior.

It's also important to note that the Hispanic population is as likely to abuse alcohol as the general population but less likely to seek alcoholism treatment. Therefore, many members of the Hispanic population don't have access to the treatment they need. One of the many causes for this lack of treatment is that the Hispanic population doesn't feel like it needs treatment. Many people don't see the issue with drinking daily or binge drinking. This is why 10% of Hispanic adults need help with alcoholism, which is 1% higher than the general population despite Hispanic people abusing alcohol at the same rate.

That said, treatment for Hispanic populations needs to be handled with care. Hispanic cultures benefit from treatment centers that have the resources to communicate in Spanish. Moreover, the Hispanic population fares better with treatment when families are around to support individuals. Therefore, outpatient treatment centers are often the best options for Hispanic patients.

3. African American 

African Americans abuse alcohol at rates higher than some other races. The factors that contribute to higher rates of abuse are socioeconomic because many members of the population live in poverty –more than any other race in the United States (percentage-wise). One study conducted by the American Psychological Association discovered that 22% of the African American population lives in poverty. Living in poverty increases the risk of homeless, murder, growing up without two parents, and being stuck on the welfare system. These are all factors that contribute to alcohol abuse, teenage alcohol abuse, and higher alcoholism rates.

One interesting thing to note is that the African American population doesn't need alcoholism treatment as much as some other races. The African American population's need for alcoholism treatment rate is 6.8%, which is lower by a percentage point than the general population. One of the factors that contribute to this lower number is that the African American population also suffers from other drug-related problems and addictions.

When it comes to treatment for African American populations, cultural empathy needs to be in place. People in these programs need to be handled with respect and integrity, especially because some members of the African American population are likely to be skeptical of other races. This is partly because of the high incarceration rates of black Americans and how it has impacted black communities.

4. Asian 

The Asian American group is a unique one. While a minority group, the perception of Asian Americans is that they're well-educated and healthy. In many cases, this is true of populations that come from Asia, Hawaii (native), and the Pacific islands. For example, Asian Americans abuse alcohol and other substances at a rate that's over 3% lower than other races. Moreover, Asian Americans that come from other nations as first-generation Americans struggle less from these substances than Asian Americans who are born in the United States.

That said, it's important to note that Asian Americans make up a big chunk of the population and other races get lumped in. While alcohol abuse rates are low in populations that come from Korea, China, and Japan, alcohol abuse rates are higher in Pacific Islander and Native Hawaiian populations. In fact, some Native Hawaiian populations report abuse rates upwards of 10%, which is 3% more than the general population and 7% more than other Asian races.

When it comes to treatment solutions for Asian Americans, education is important. Many people don't have an understanding of modern treatment systems, which prevents people from seeking treatment. Asian cultures also tend to be more private, which is why many people fail to seek treatment. For this reason, making people within Asian cultures feel more comfortable is a great way to encourage treatment.

5. Caucasian 

Caucasians have the highest rate of alcohol abuse in the United States. While some of this can be explained by Caucasians not being a minority group, the numbers are staggering. Over 57% of Caucasian Americans admitted to drinking within the last month. Plus, Caucasian Americans have the highest rates of teenage alcoholism. Nearly 12.9% of Caucasian teenagers in the United States have consumed alcohol, which is not legal.

When it comes to Caucasian alcohol consumption, white men seem to be the ones who drink the most. White male alcoholics outnumber white female alcoholics but female drinking is catching up. A lot of alcohol abuse among members of the Caucasian race is caused by alcohol consumption being more socially acceptable and even praised in popular media. Another factor to consider with white female alcoholism rates is that SAMHSA reports that white females have higher rates of behavioral health issues than white men.

When it comes to treatment for alcoholism, Caucasians have many options. Because the Caucasian race is the majority population, most treatment centers and rehabilitation programs operate based on the Caucasian culture. Therefore, finding inpatient, outpatient, and detox treatment comes down to insurance, quality, and pricing.

6. Slavic 

Alcohol consumption among Slavic nations and people remains the highest around the world. Nations like Russia and Belarus have high rates of alcoholism, alcohol consumption, and binge drinking. Slavic nations tend to be the highest abusers of alcohol. According to a study about the percentage of alcohol consumption, 4% of Russian and other Slavic populations consume alcohol more than a few times per week. These numbers rise above 10% when considering how many people in Slavic nations drink at least twice per week. Compared to the rest of the world, these numbers are staggering.

Slavic nations have high rates of alcoholism for several reasons. First and foremost, the wars fought in the past led to economic problems, starvation, and even disease. People in Slavic nations turned to alcohol to ease the suffering, which led to high rates of alcoholism. While alcohol abuse has decreased in these areas of the world, Slavic nations like Belarus have the most liters of alcohol consumed worldwide. That said, Russian alcohol consumption rates have dropped and 38% of the population doesn't consume alcohol at all.

When it comes to treatment for Slavic people and Slavic nations, getting people help is easier said than done because many people drink daily or once per week. This causes the population to believe that alcoholism is not a problem that needs treatment. Therefore, education is the best method.

7. European 

European cultures and nations have alcoholism rates similar to the United States and the populations within the United States. In Europe, alcoholism rates are high among teenage and adult populations because of the lower legal drinking age. For this reason, over 8.4% of the EU population aged over 15 years old Have admitted to drinking one alcoholic beverage each day. Compared to other nations and cultures, this number is larger.

European alcoholism rates are about on par with the rest of the world. The primary difference is that European nations have a drinking age that's younger than Asian nations and the United States, which creates higher rates of alcohol consumption among younger populations. Otherwise, European nations have similar problems to the United States and cultures within the United States when it comes to alcoholism.

European nations and people have access to treatment options but are not always likely to take them. Like white and Hispanic Americans, Europeans don't always believe that alcohol consumption is an issue, which is why education is the best way to help European people get alcoholism treatment.

Which Race has the Highest Alcohol Tolerance? 

In North America, Native Americans are known for boasting high alcohol tolerance rates. That said, alcohol tolerance has nothing to do with race. Instead, it has everything to do with past alcohol consumption, genetics, and the type of alcohol that someone consumes. Still, some groups of people have higher alcohol tolerances on average when compared to other races and nations. Some more examples include British men and Slavic men.

Does Genetics Affect Alcohol Tolerance? 

Yes, genetics affects alcohol tolerance. People who have alcohol dehydrogenase enzymes are less tolerant of alcohol because it breaks down faster in the body and causes adverse effects. Moreover, some people have genes that make them intolerant to alcohol. In these cases, people will display allergy symptoms when alcohol is consumed. Some symptoms include redness in the face, headaches, swelling, and general discomfort.

Do Native Americans Have Low Alcohol Tolerance? 

No, Native Americans don't have a low alcohol tolerance (on average). In fact, many studies suggest that Native Americans have higher alcohol tolerances than other races in the United States. That said, there is a good chance that some Native Americans do have a low alcohol tolerance. This is because low alcohol tolerance can be inherited by anyone and people who don't consume alcohol don't have a tolerance for it.

Who are the Heaviest Drinkers in the World? 

The Czech Republic is home to the heaviest drinkers in the world. Per capita, the Czech people consume 16.45 liters of alcohol. While Belarus and Moldova used to be home to the heaviest drinkers, the Czech Republic now consumes the most alcohol per capita per year. That said, individuals from other counties can still drink more than the average Czech Republic citizen. This is the highest alcohol consumption by country.

Which Race is More Prone to be Alcoholics?

Native Americans and Caucasians have the highest rates of alcoholism in the United States. Caucasians have high rates of alcoholism for hereditary reasons and sample size, whereas Native Americans experience higher rates of mental health disorders that lead to a dependency on alcohol. Therefore, Native Americans and Caucasians are more prone to be alcoholics than other races.

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Thomas Roth
Lead Editor

Thomas has been working in the substance abuse industry for over 3 years and he's made it his mission to help those in need. Tom started out by writing content to help people find addiction treatment centers near their location. Once he understood the value in the words he wrote Tom shifted to outreach, editing, and content creation. If nothing else, Tom wants to see those who struggle with Alcohol abuse disorder recover.