alcohol study

Alcohol Misconceptions More Harmful to Some Groups

If time and research has told us anything, it’s that commonly held beliefs regarding alcohol and drug use are oftentimes untrue and damaging. For instance, many people believed that a glass of wine every day was healthy, however new research proves that a glass of wine a day is more harmful than it is beneficial. Another misconception that has proven to be false is that alcohol is less harmful than illicit street drugs. Medical professionals warn that the effects of a long term alcohol problem are extremely dangerous and can prove fatal. In the vein of debunking alcohol-related myths, one research team examined the common belief that Native Americans have a higher rate of alcohol consumption than other ethnicities, therefore leading to an increased threat of alcohol abuse.

Researchers at the University of Arizona got together and analyzed information from a survey of over 4,000 Native Americans and 170,000 Caucasians. And contrary to popular beliefs, Native Americans seem to consume alcohol at the same rates as white people, except for one instance. When it comes to which group is more likely to abstain from alcohol, Native Americans actually refrain from drinking more than white people refrain from drinking. The analysts noted that 17% of Native Americans reported binge drinking, this compares to the 17% of white people that admitted to binge drinking behaviors.

Unearthing the truth behind Native Americans drinking behaviors highlights an important point,
“…falsely stereotyping a group regrading alcohol can have its own unique consequences. For example, some employers might be reluctant to hire individuals from a group that has been stereotyped regarding alcohol. Patients from such a group, possibly wanting to avoid embarrassment, may be reluctant to discuss alcohol-related problems with their doctors,” explained James Cunningham, lead author of the study.

Perhaps the most important point to take away from this study is that there is a significant need for ongoing alcohol-related research and public education. United States residents are continuing to consume alcohol, some at alarming rates, and one way to combat against alcohol abuse problems is to educate.

Scientists Explore Possible Cause Behind Alcohol Abuse

For several years the popular theory behind alcoholism is that alcoholics have a delayed reaction to alcohol – therefore causing them to drink more. For instance, someone who drinks and feels the effects of the alcohol quickly is less likely to be an alcoholic. This way of thinking may be replaced with new findings from a six-year study.

In fact, scientists have noticed that those who feel the effects of alcohol quickly are more likely to become addicted. Andrea King, PhD, and a professor at the University of Chicago, points out that these new conclusions go against what we have typically believed about alcohol addiction in the past. And while alcohol is the most abuse drug in our society, it is surprising that we are still unsure of the cause of the addiction.

The study Dr. King and her team conducted consisted of 190 people that were not alcoholics. They were split into two groups. One group was given alcohol and the other was given a placebo. Those participants that were light drinkers felt more sedated, whereas those that were heavier drinkers felt more energy. Dr. King believes that feeling sedated is a defense that stops the person from binge drinking.

Additionally, these participants were followed up with six years later. Interviews with the participants supports the findings that the quicker the person feels the effects of alcohol the more likely they are to become addicted.

“There’s so much we don’t know about development of alcohol problems and becoming an alcoholic. We really wanted to look at how one’s response to alcohol may relate to these behaviors over time,” stated Dr. King.

These findings may be helpful to those who are struggling with addiction, or who notice that they are binge drinking. Binge drinking would consist of more than four drinks in a sitting. By being aware of some of the indicators of alcohol abuse we can target our preventative and educational efforts to those who seem to be participating in binge drinking.