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J Addict Res Ther. 2013 Sep 28;4. doi: 10.4172/2155-6105.1000160.

Temporal Trends and Changing Racial/ethnic Disparities in Alcohol Problems: Results from the 2000 to 2010 National Alcohol Surveys.

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Alcohol Research Group, Emeryville, CA.



Economic conditions and drinking norms have been in considerable flux over the past 10 years. Accordingly, research is needed to evaluate both overall trends in alcohol problems during this period and whether changes within racial/ethnic groups have affected racial/ethnic disparities.


We used 3 cross-sectional waves of National Alcohol Survey data (2000, 2005, and 2010) to examine a) temporal trends in alcohol dependence and consequences overall and by race/ethnicity, and b) the effects of temporal changes on racial/ethnic disparities. Analyses involved bivariate tests and multivariate negative binomial regressions testing the effects of race/ethnicity, survey year, and their interaction on problem measures.


Both women and men overall showed significant increases in dependence symptoms in 2010 (vs. 2000); women also reported increases in alcohol-related consequences in 2010 (vs. 2000). (Problem rates were equivalent across 2005 and 2000.) However, increases in problems were most dramatic among Whites, and dependence symptoms actually decreased among Latinos of both genders in 2010. Consequently, the long-standing disparity in dependence between Latino and White men was substantially reduced in 2010. Post-hoc analyses suggested that changes in drinking norms at least partially drove increased problem rates among Whites.


Results constitute an important contribution to the literature on racial/ethnic disparities in alcohol problems. Findings are not inconsistent with the macroeconomic literature suggesting increases in alcohol problems during economic recession, but the pattern of effects across race/ethnicity and findings regarding norms together suggest, at the least, a revised understanding of how recessions affect drinking patterns and problems.


African American; Black; Hispanic; alcohol; distress; financial strain; unemployment

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