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New data on the epidemiology of adult drinking and substance use among American Indians of the northern states: male and female data on prevalence, patterns, and consequences.

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  • 1Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions (CASAA), University of New Mexico.


The quantity, frequency, and variability of alcohol and other substance use is described in a random sample of 1,436 enrolled members of four tribes from the northern United States. Overall, males begin regular drinking at an earlier age than do females (17 vs. 18.1 years), and more males drink alcohol than females (70.7% to 60.4%). There are some very heavy drinkers who drink daily in these populations, but most drinkers are binge drinkers. On any typical day abstinence from alcohol is the modal pattern. That is, most respondents indicated very infrequent drinking, and among the older age groups (40+), there is a high rate of abstinence. Males drink more frequently and in larger quantities than females. The number of drinking days per month is 4.7 for males and 2.1 for females, and on those days when drinking occurs, the males consume an average of 5.7 drinks and females an average of 3.1. The highest prevalence of drinking and the heaviest drinking occur among those who are under the age of 30. With the exception of tobacco use, which is high in all age categories, the use of other drugs is highest in those under 30.

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