Academic journal article Alcohol Health & Research World

Alcoholic Beverage Consumption in India, Mexico, and Nigeria

Academic journal article Alcohol Health & Research World

Alcoholic Beverage Consumption in India, Mexico, and Nigeria

Article excerpt

Drinking practices vary substantially among different countries. An understanding of such differences can help researchers, clinicians, and policymakers develop prevention, diagnostic, and treatment measures as well as overall alcohol policies that are appropriate for a given country. Accordingly, researchers have conducted cross-cultural analyses of drinking patterns and practices. Three countries included in such analyses are India, Mexico, and Nigeria. These countries differ substantially in their ethnic and cultural characteristics, including the role that alcohol plays in daily life. To gain a better insight into the attitudes toward alcohol in these countries, researchers have analyzed the alcoholic beverage preferences, gender and age differences in alcohol consumption patterns, drinking contexts and drinking patterns, alcohol-related problems, approaches to prevention and treatment, and drinking indicators in each nation. These analyses demonstrate that no single definition of "normal" drinking, problem drinking, or alcohol dependence can apply equally to all countries or cultures. KEY WORDS: AOD consumption; South Central Asia; western Africa; Mexico; cross cultural study; comparative study; ethnic differences; international differences; AOD preference; gender differences; age differences; context dynamics; AOD use pattern; problematic AOD use; epidemiology; public policy on AOD use; attitude toward AOD; AOD prevention; treatment; literature review

Alcoholic beverage consumption patterns vary considerably among different countries and even among different ethnic groups within one country. These variations in drinking patterns include, for example, the types of beverages consumed preferentially, occasions on which consumption typically occurs, drinking levels that are considered normal, and population subgroups for whom drinking is considered acceptable. Television, movies, and scholarly publications have depicted and investigated differences in drinking traditions to such an extent that people throughout the world are increasingly aware of drinking patterns in cultures other than their own.

Several decades ago, researchers in the United States began paying considerable attention to the role that alcohol consumption plays in the lives of people of different ethnic backgrounds. Such investigations initially focused on the differences among people of Irish, Italian, and Jewish descent living in the United States. More recently, interest has focused on the drinking patterns among various Native American, African-American, and Hispanic groups. Similar studies on the diversity of drinking traditions have been conducted in Europe, comparing, for example, drinking patterns between Mediterranean and Scandinavian countries. In addition, studies conducted in South and East Asia have demonstrated that the roles of alcohol consumption in daily life and on ritual occasions vary considerably among different countries or cultures and depend in part on the religious practices of the groups studied.

What is the relevance of studies on cross-cultural differences in alcoholic beverage consumption? Cultural variations in drinking practices and beliefs about alcohol have far-reaching implications for policymakers, clinicians, and researchers in the field of alcohol and other drug (AOD) use and abuse. Based on cross-cultural comparisons, combined with information on historical changes and variations in drinking behavior within each culture, researchers and policymakers can obtain a better understanding of the relationships between drinking patterns, drinking-related consequences, and the outcome of informal and formal alcohol policies. Such analyses can assist in the development of appropriate alcoholrelated policies and in the identification of effective clinical prevention and treatment strategies. For example, during the early 1980s the Institute of Applied Social and Economic Research (IASER) in Papua New Guinea conducted a crosscultural examination of traditional drinking practices and the effects of deprohibition. …

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