The majority of the American population is classified as white or Caucasian. The US Census Bureau reports that as of July 1, 2016, nearly three-quarters of the population in the United States was white.
As a whole, Caucasians tend to drink more alcohol, and drink more often, than many other racial demographics. The following statistical information for Caucasians regarding alcohol use was collected via the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH):
- More than half of all American Caucasians, aged 12 and older, reported current use of alcohol (57.7%), which was higher than any other race demographic.
- Almost one-quarter of all Caucasian adults in the United States binge drank alcohol in the month leading up to the 2013 survey (24%).
- Just over 7% of American Caucasian adults drank heavily at least once in the 30 days prior to the 2013 survey (7.3%).
- Caucasian youths, aged 12-17, drank more often than youths of other ethnic backgrounds, as 12.9% reported current consumption of alcohol.
- Approximately 8.4% of Caucasian adults battled a substance use disorder involving drugs or alcohol, or both, in 2013.
There is a lot of variation within the Caucasian race in regard to socioeconomic status, religion, sexual preference, education level, gender, and culture. All of these aspects can play a role in alcohol abuse and potential issues with alcohol as well as factor into specialized alcohol abuse and addiction treatment considerations.
Alcohol Abuse and Addiction within the Caucasian Demographic
Young white males have a very high risk for abusing alcohol, Western Virginia University (WVU) warns, as they often start drinking in late adolescence and may continue problematic drinking patterns into adulthood, which can then lead to struggles with alcoholism. Drinking alcohol before the brain is fully developed in early adulthood, and drinking before the legal drinking age of 21, can increase the odds that a person will suffer from alcohol addiction later in life. Drinking before the age of 15 can quadruple the odds that a person will battle alcohol dependence later in life as well.
Alcohol makes changes to some of the brain's circuitry, reward pathways, and chemical makeup. When it is introduced before the brain is completely developed, it can disrupt natural formation and function. Things like impulse control, cognitive functions, decision-making abilities, understanding of cause and effect, recognition of potentially dangerous actions or situations, and emotional regulation are underdeveloped in children and adolescents, and alcohol interacts and interferes with all of these functions.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) warns that underage drinking is a major public health concern, leading to thousands of deaths, accidents, and injuries each year. While alcoholism and alcohol abuse have traditionally been more of an issue for white males, more and more women are drinking and experiencing alcohol-related problems in recent years.
In general, more Americans are drinking alcohol. NPR publishes that a study on drinking patterns in the United States shows that patterns of high-risk drinking increased by 58% for American women between the years 2002 and 2013, and rates of alcohol abuse and dependence increased by a whopping 83.7% during that time. The Washington Post publishes that middle-aged white women (those between the ages of 35 and 54) drink alcohol more frequently than any other race, as 70% report they are drinkers. White women are also more likely to drink more than one day per week and engage in patterns of binge drinking than other races of women. Alcohol has become much more acceptable for women to drink in recent years. More women are drinking and therefore experiencing more problems related to alcohol and its consumption.
Alcoholism is considered a heritable disease as about half of a person's vulnerability to alcohol abuse and dependence comes from genetic factors, NIAAA publishes. Environmental aspects account for the other half; therefore, socioeconomic status, level of education, and geographical location can contribute to alcohol abuse and addiction.
White individuals living in urban areas are more likely to struggle with alcohol abuse and patterns problematic drinking than those who live in rural areas, the journal Alcohol Research Current Reviews publishes. Rates of alcoholism were similar for both rural and urban communities, however. Alcohol may be more readily accessible in an urban area; however, treatment services can be more limited in rural communities. Poverty and low levels of education, combined with an unstable and high-stress home environment, can also contribute to alcohol abuse and addiction, both in white rural and urban communities.
Specialized Alcoholism Treatment Considerations for Caucasians
Rehab and treatment services for alcohol abuse and alcoholism are most beneficial when they are tailored to each specific individual. As a majority race in the United States, there are not programs that specifically cater to Caucasians; however, there are specialized treatment services that are gender- and age-specific; culturally sensitive programs; programs designed for the LGBT population; and rehab services that are specific to a certain religion. Each of these programs will adjust their treatment services to best suit the demographic they are designed to care for, as each will have specific nuances and side effects to manage.
Women tend to struggle with behavioral health issues more often than men, for example, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) publishes. Women who battle alcoholism are also more likely to have a higher frequency of alcohol-related health problems and may therefore benefit best from a rehab program that is designed for the treatment of co-occurring medical and/or mental health disorders.
A rehab program that is sensitive to special population groups can provide a safe and secure healing environment. Individuals often feel most comfortable when surrounded by peers to whom they can relate during therapy, counseling, and support group sessions, and a specialized program can help with this.
- Detox and medical detox services, which may use medications to manage potentially difficult alcohol withdrawal symptoms under direct medical supervision in a safe and stable environment
- Group, family, and individual therapy and counseling sessions that often use behavioral therapy techniques to help individuals learn healthy stress management and relapse prevention methods
- Medication management for alcohol withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and any mental health or medical considerations
- Integrated treatment for co-occurring mental health and/or medical disorders
- Support group and 12-Step group meetings that offer peer support and encouragement to sustain recovery
- Life skills training to develop new skills, coping mechanisms, and healthy habits
- Transitional services to aid the move from a residential treatment program to a person's home environment
- Holistic and complementary treatment methods, such as yoga, mindfulness meditation, nutrition services, fitness programs, expressive therapies, acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage therapy, and spa treatments
- Aftercare and alumni programs that provide ongoing support throughout recovery
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that Caucasians make up the majority of all public substance abuse treatment admissions, as 60% of admissions in 2008 were white. Alcohol rehab services for Caucasians can be provided in an outpatient setting or in a residential treatment facility. Treatment services that are culturally and ethnically sensitive to specialty populations can help to promote healing and therefore enhance recovery, so Caucasian individuals who fit certain demographics, such as women or LGBTQ individuals, may opt for specialized care.
Addiction is a personal disease. A detailed evaluation prior to admission into a program helps treatment providers to design and carry out a care plan that will provide the best fit for the individual and their family.