Alcohol Consumption among American Indians and the U.S. Population
Survey carried out on the drinking habits of Americans shows that Indian American youths are more likely to drink compared to others. This is attributed to the ease of availability of alcohol and the fact that drinking begins at very early ages. Those who live close to reserves were also found to be more likely to drink alcohol than others. From data obtained through a national survey of drug use and alcohol consumption in 2007, it was established that alcohol consumption is rampant among Americans. 58.9% of whites above 18 years reported consuming alcohol. The highest rates were reported to be for the American Indians and the Blacks, while the lowest reported was for the Asian Americans. Most Native Americans reported being binge drinkers while Hispanics were also reported to consume alcohol.
The survey results show that Native Americans have the highest weekly drinking rates for men and women. The Hispanic men boast of the highest daily alcohol consumption rates. For women, the highest rates are linked to black and Asian American women while the lowest are for the Indian American and Hispanic women. The estimation of alcohol consumption rates among Indian Americans is difficult due to the differences in tribes and drinking habits across the tribes.
The prevalence of alcohol consumption was found to be highest among those in the northern reservations and lowest in the southern reservations. For Indians between 15 and 54 years, it was shown that those in the Southwest regions had greater prevalence for alcohol consumption. This was in comparison to those of the northern (Beals et al., 2003). The information collected also shows that the alcohol consumption prevalence among Indian males across different tribes is higher than for females.
Another comparison was also made between Hispanics of different geographical regions. Besides the differences in alcohol consumption prevalence, the Hispanics also show preference for beverages. The Mexican American men consume more alcohol compared to the Puerto Ricans. On the other hand, the women from Puerto Rico consume more alcohol compared to other Mexican women. The preference for beer is however common across all the tribes.
Because of the prevalence of alcohol consumption among Indians, various strategies have been suggested for preventing addiction and consumption. The proposed methods such as the formation of movements that help in treatment have been established. These methods however depend on understanding the causes of alcohol consumption. Strategies such as facilities that help women in preventing alcohol consumption have all been recognized as useful for preventing alcohol consumption. Other methods also include enforcement of spiritual beliefs (Caetano, 2008).
Apart from these methods, non- native approaches such as pharmacotherapy, alcoholics anonymous and behavioral therapy are also used for prevention of alcoholism. Policies have also been put in place to help in alcoholism prevention. Taking part in native practices is also another method used to prevent alcoholism since the time taken to participate in these activities limit the time available for alcohol consumption. Role modeling by elders is also an important in the prevention of alcohol consumption among Indian tribes.
While all these methods may be effective in preventing alcohol consumption, the sense of belonging also contributes immensely. Cultural practices which aim at enhancing self determination in the political sense can also help in controlling the prevalence rates for alcohol consumption. Cultural practices can be used even by Native Americans to reduce alcohol consumption.
Beals, J., Spicer, P., and Mitchell, C.M. (2003). Racial disparities in alcohol use: Comparison of 2 American Indian reservation populations with national data. American Journal of Public Health 93 (10): 1683–1685.
Caetano, R., Ramisetty-Mikler, S., and Rodriguez, L.A (2008a). The Hispanic Americans Baseline Alcohol Survey (HABLAS): Rates and predictors of alcohol abuse and dependence across Hispanic national groups. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 69 (3): 441–448.
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