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J Stud Alcohol. 1995 Sep;56(5):558-65.

Changes in drinking patterns among whites, blacks and Hispanics, 1984-1992.

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Alcohol Research Group, Berkeley, California 94709, USA.



This article reports a longitudinal study of drinking patterns among whites, blacks and Hispanics between 1984 and 1992.


A probability sample including 1,777 whites, 1,947 blacks and 1,453 Hispanics in the U.S. adult household population was interviewed in 1984. In 1992 a subsample consisting of 788 whites, 723 blacks and 703 Hispanics was reinterviewed. Interviews averaging 1 hour in length were conducted in respondents' home by trained interviewers.


Abstention increased in all groups with the exception of Hispanic women, among whom it remained stable. Heavy drinking decreased only among white men (from 19% to 12%). Among men, the incidence of heavy drinking was 7% among whites, 10% among blacks and 17% among Hispanics. The stability of heavy drinking was greater among black (51%) and Hispanic men (43%) than among white men (32%). The best predictor of drinking in 1992 was drinking in 1984.


Reductions in heavy drinking observed among whites were not observed among blacks and Hispanics. The greater stability of heavy drinking in the minority groups helps to explain higher rates of problems reported in the literature for these two groups. Prevention efforts targeting drinking and heavy drinking among blacks and Hispanics must be renewed and intensified.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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