Alcohol Use among Cuban-Americans, Mexican-Americans, and Puerto Ricans

By Randolph, Whitney M.; Stroup-Benham, Christine et al. | Alcohol Health & Research World, January 1, 1998 | Go to article overview

Alcohol Use among Cuban-Americans, Mexican-Americans, and Puerto Ricans


Randolph, Whitney M., Stroup-Benham, Christine, Black, Sandra A., Markides, Kyriakos S., Alcohol Health & Research World


Studies of alcohol consumption among Hispanics in the United States show different patterns based on gender, country of origin, and economic status. The literature shows a lower frequency but higher volume of consumption among Mexican-American and Puerto Rican males than among non-Hispanic white males. CubanAmerican males have a pattern of relatively moderate consumption that resembles that of non-Hispanic whites. Women from Mexican-American, CubanAmerican, and Puerto Rican populations have low alcohol consumption rates, which appear to increase with the level of acculturation. Existing data are old, however, and new studies are needed to update information on alcohol consumption patterns of the largest Hispanic subgroups in the United States as well as the drinking habits of the growing numbers of Hispanics from places other than Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. KEY WORDS: Hispanic; amount of AOD use; AOD use frequency; alcohol consumption; gender differences; acculturation; West Indies and Bermuda; Mexico; Central American; immigrant; ethnic differences; racial differences; morbidity; AODR (alcohol and other drug related) morbidity; literature review

Hispanic-Americans are one of the fastest growing minority groups in the United States, numbering more than 28 million and making up about 11 percent of the U.S. population (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1997). Approximately 60 percent of all Hispanics in the United States are of Mexican origin, 15 percent are of Puerto Rican origin, and 5 percent are of Cuban origin; the remaining 20 percent is composed of people with origins in other Spanishspeaking nations of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1997). In recent years, increased interest has developed in understanding more about this populations health status and health behaviors. This article provides a brief overview of what is known about alcohol consumption among Hispanic-Americans, including information on the influence of such factors as country of origin, gender, and level of acculturation. The article also examines Hispanics' patterns of alcohol consumption (i.e., frequency and volume), associated problems and the ways in which their drinking patterns compare with those of non-Hispanic whites and African-Americans (see table 1, p. 266).

ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION AMONG HISPANICAMERICAN MEN

Early research reviewed by Caetano (1983) and Neff (1986) indicated that Hispanic-American men appeared to drink less frequently but in higher quantities than non-Hispanic white and African-American men, a pattern sometimes referred to as binge, or "fiesta," drinking (table 1). Data from the 1982-1984 Hispanic Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (HHANES), which included Mexican-Americans in the Southwest, Puerto Ricans in the New York City area, and Cuban-Americans in Dade County (Miami), Florida, confirmed this pattern among Mexican-American and Puerto Rican males, but not among Cuban-Americans (Lee et al. 1997).

A number of studies within specific Hispanic populations have found that differences in alcohol consumption among males exist based on Hispanic origin (see table 2, p. 267). A 1984 survey of drinking practices and alcohol consumption conducted by the Alcohol Research Group (ARG) found that although Mexican-American men had higher rates of abstention than other Hispanic men, they also had the highest rate of frequent heavy drinking, defined as consuming five or more drinksl in one sitting at least once per week (Caetano 1988). In the ARG study,54 percent of the Mexican-American men reported heavy drinking (as defined above) at least once per year and as often as once per week, whereas 28 percent of the Puerto Rican men and only 8 percent of the Cuban-American men reported drinking patterns consisting of the same high volume and frequency (Caetano 1988). Despite limited numbers of CubanAmericans and Puerto Ricans in the study, the data indicated that Mexican-American men were more likely to drink large quantities of alcohol in any given drinking session than were Puerto Rican and Cuban men (Caetano 1988). …

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