Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Discrimination May Increase Risk of Severe Alcohol Use in Minorities

Racial and ethnic discrimination may increase the risk that members of minority groups will experience severe alcohol use disorder (AUD), according to a report in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

“Our findings [should] prompt researchers and practitioners to consider the extent to which systems of oppression can impact the pathogenesis, trajectories, and recoveries (including relapse) of AUD, and how shifting policies and practices can move toward the dismantling of oppression that give rise to illnesses,” wrote Joseph E. Glass, Ph.D., M.S.W., of Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute and colleagues.

The authors analyzed data from 17,115 racial/ethnic minorities who participated in the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol-Related Conditions III (NESARC-III), a national survey that took place in 2012-2013. This included the responses of individuals who identified as American Indian or Alaskan Native; Asian, Native Hawaiian, or Other Pacific Islander; Black or African American; and Hispanic or Latino.

During in-person interviews, participants were evaluated using the AUD and Associated Disabilities Interview Schedule-5. (AUD severity levels were classified as mild, moderate, or severe: endorsing 2−3, 4–5, or ≥6 DSM-5 criteria, respectively.) The participants were also asked how often in the past year they felt they had “experienced discrimination, been prevented from doing something, or been hassled or made to feel inferior” because of their race or ethnicity. Specifically, the participants were asked about discrimination in several situations, including when receiving health care treatment, when applying for housing and jobs, and when interacting with the police.

In comparison with those who did not experience discrimination, those who experienced any discrimination had a 1.5-fold greater risk of mild AUD, a 1.6-fold greater risk of moderate AUD, and a 2.3-fold greater risk of severe AUD. “We found no evidence to suggest that the strength of the association between racial/ethnic discrimination and AUD severity varied across race/ethnic group or poverty status,” the authors noted.

“Strategies to reduce risk for severe AUD should include efforts to minimize the occurrence and impact of interpersonal and institutional racism,” they concluded.

(Image: iStock/Savushkin)

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