Canaan, CT – The stigma of addiction hurts some groups more than others. While problem drinking in America transcends racial and socioeconomic lines, communities of color increasingly struggle with alcoholism – and the sense of shame that often goes with it.

A 2017 study in the journal JAMA Psychiatry found that rates of high-risk drinking and alcohol use disorders have soared among racial and ethnic minorities. The survey found that between 2001 and 2013, high-risk drinking increased by 40 percent among Hispanics and Native Americans, about 57 percent for Asians and Pacific Islanders, and 62 percent for African Americans.

One of the consequences of high-risking drinking – defined by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as four or more drinks a week for women and five or more drinks a week for men – is alcoholism. Indeed, the JAMA Psychiatry researchers reported that the prevalence of alcohol use disorders also rose among minorities during the study period. Notably, the incidence of alcoholism surged by approximately 52 percent for Hispanics, 78 percent for Asians and Pacific Islanders, and 93 percent for African Americans. 

Data Source: National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC)

“Not every person who drinks excessively will develop alcoholism because addiction is influenced by multiple factors, including age, family history, mental health, and environment,” says Lukasz Junger, Psychiatric Advanced Practice Registered Nurse at Mountainside. “Alcoholism among minority populations is often further complicated by obstacles such as discrimination, a lack of health coverage or financial resources, and language or cultural barriers that can make treatment less accessible or straightforward.”

Researchers from the JAMA Psychiatry study speculate that people of color may have increasingly turned to alcohol after the 2008 recession as a means of coping with the widening wealth gap between them and white populations.

African Americans and Hispanics face a higher chance of developing alcohol-related liver diseases, according to a 2017 journal article from Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. People of color who struggle with alcoholism are also more likely to encounter stigma, which can discourage them from seeking the help they deserve.

“Anyone hoping to recover from alcoholism can benefit from being in a culturally sensitive treatment environment,” says Junger. “Confronting medical concerns early on, participating in psychotherapy, and joining peer support groups can encourage a sense of belonging and help people overcome hurdles to their recovery.”


Mountainside Treatment Center

Mountainside is nationally recognized for the effectiveness of its drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs. Our Integrative Care Model provides a comprehensive set of treatment and care offerings coordinated by a multidisciplinary treatment team to best fit the unique needs and interests of each client. We are lauded for our ability to partner with each client and the client’s family and healthcare professionals in developing and executing individualized treatment plans that promote long-term sobriety. Learn more about Mountainside at