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Study: Hispanic women saw uptick in alcohol consumption in 2020

By September 4, 2021COVID-19

Hispanic women had one of the highest increases in alcohol consumption the last year, likely as a response to increased stress and caregiving responsibilities from the pandemic, per a study on drinking habits.

What’s happening: The data contrasts with a historical trend in which Latinas especially report more alcohol abstinence than white non-Hispanics, according to data from the National Institutes of Health.

  • Researchers from the RTI International study attribute the increase partly to “higher stress” in the face of the pandemic’s after-effects for the “more marginalized communities with less resources” like Latina and Black women.
  • Hispanics overall have been hard hit in COVID-19 infections and deaths, and experts predict unemployment and lack of health insurance will remain especially high for Latina and Black women.
  • In the past year, deaths by overdose from opioid use also skyrocketed among Latinos overall.

By the numbers: Hispanic women reported taking 2.5 more drinks per month between February of 2020 and November of last year.

  • Before 2020, alcohol dependency had decreased for Latinos of all genders 12 and older, and their alcohol use had held mostly steady in 2019, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  • Historically, Puerto Rican men and women have been the Hispanic group that drinks the most, while Cuban men and Mexican women drink the least.

Of note: Hispanics with substance abuse issues like alcoholism tend to develop resulting medical problems earlier than other groups.

  • Studies show Latinos get liver disease from alcohol abuse when they are between four and 10 years younger than their white and Black non-Hispanic peers.
  • Chronic liver disease is a leading cause of death for Latino men and women, according to Department of Health and Human Services data.

Between the lines: The rise in substance abuse among Hispanics over the past few years has not been met with timely access to rehab services.

  • Compounded by stigma about seeking help for substance abuse and hindrances to getting it, more than 90% of Latinos with an addiction to drugs or alcohol don’t get treatment, according to SAMHSA.
  • Very few places in the U.S. offer Spanish or bilingual detox services for Hispanics who would need them.

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