Arizona State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Chicana and Chicano StudiesLatino Health Issues

Alcoholism in the Mexican-American Community

Alcohol and its effect on the Latino Community

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depressed woman drinking with cigaretteman drinking alcohol from bottlegirl drinking beer from bottlesilhouette of man and glass of alcoholdepressed man and bottle of alcoholdevil offering man a glass of wine Only recently has alcoholism been diagnosed as a disease. In my opinion, within the Mexican American community this diagnosis holds little merit. Our traditional values hold the person responsible for their drinking and see their choice as the problem, not a genetically inherited disease. We must become educated on the dangers associated with drinking, and the disease known as alcoholism as well.

As our population grows so will our rates of alcoholism. Advertisers such as Anheiser-Busch and other alcohol related companies are beginning to tap into our communities with ads geared not only towards the adult Mexican American community, but the youth as well. Research shows that Hispanic youth are more likely to drink and get drunk at earlier ages than non-Hispanic youth. The fact that our youth will likely see 32 percent more alcohol advertising than non-Hispanic youth makes it seem that the alcohol companies already know this (Hamilton, 2003).

As a community we need to address this problem at a young age. The younger our children begin drinking the more chance for addiction and problems related to alcohol. A study in 1992, found that 23 percent of Latino men, almost one fifth of our population, were frequent, heavy drinkers, as compared to only 15 percent for African Americans and 12 percent for white men (Trauma Foundation, 1998).

To make matters worse, studies have shown that staff members at drug and alcohol treatment programs for Hispanics are unfamiliar with Hispanic culture (The Brown University Digest of Addiction Theory and Application, 1998). Add this to the attitudes held within our communities and the outcome is not very optimistic.

Hopefully the information that I have presented, along with the links I have given will change some attitudes. The table below is just one example of the effect that alcohol is having on our communities. At the present rate, alcoholism will become a major problem in our future communities. Only our communities themselves can alter this future. Our Mexican culture is unique in this country and problems within the Mexican community must be fixed by those within the community itself.

Alcohol and Non-Alcohol Fatalities by Ethnic Group
Alcohol No Alcohol Percent
White 65,309 87,737 44.1%
African American 11,072 12,453 47.1%
Native American 2,197 804 73.2%
Asian/Pacific Islander 1,094 2,942 27.1%
Mexican 7,968 5,387 59.7%
Puerto Rican 529 654 44.7%
Cuban 240 473 33.7%
Central/South American 1,005 961 51.1%
Other Hispanic/Unknown 1,834 1,657 52.5%
TOTAL 91,248 108,068 45.8

Note: Alcohol-related crash fatality occurred in a crash in which at least one active participant had a non-zero BAC.

Source: Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, Prevention Research Center, 1999.

Cited from MADDOnline 2004



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This site was created by Martin Arvizu in fulfillment of requirements for the course CSS 335: Latino Health Issues taught by Dr. Szkupinski Quiroga at Arizona State University, Spring 2004.