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.