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Stress due to discrimination may trigger alcohol abuse: Study

Fighting racism is not easy. The prevalence of racism, characterized by discrimination, is a common problem, but most people shy away from discussing it, terming it a “myth” that makes it hard to define.

The United States of America, the world’s most developed economy, has policies in place to treat its people equally, but it has not been able to wipe away the discrimination against African Americans, Latin Americans, Asian Americans or Native Americans. Discrimination is a powerful tool deployed to keep a particular race bereft of equal rights and opportunities, the extent of prejudice and bigotry based on inherent biological traits or color can trigger damaging emotions of stress and distress. Such feelings, coupled with the arduousness of having to deal with racist or discriminatory temperament of people in day to day lives, result in aggravated tendencies of abusing substances to deal with resulting pressure and frustration.

The stress-busting characteristics of alcohol coerce people to drink with the hope that it would help them cope with the stress they face in their daily lives. A group of researches tried to understand if alcohol is consumed in response to discrimination in the same way as people drink in response to daily stress.

The researchers conducted a study titled, “Discrimination and Drinking: A Systematic Review of the Evidence,” to substantiate the belief that drinking habit and associated problems related to substance abuse stem from discrimination to a great extent.

For the study, published online in the journal Social Science & Medicine in June 2016, the scientists searched through six online databases for research papers associated with discrimination and drinking habit resulting from it.

‘Discrimination is harmful to health, specifically through alcohol’

The studies obtained were segregated to make place for nearly 1,200 scientific researches that met the necessary standards for the purpose of decision making. Further, 97 published research papers determining a link between discrimination and heavy drinking, with the help of numbers and statistics, were identified. Of these, 71 case studies had dealt with discrimination on the basis of race, while the rest talked about bigotry and prejudice based on gender and sexual identities and preferences.

Based on the findings, lead author Paul Gilbert, assistant professor of the Department of Community and Behavioral Health at the University of Iowa College of Public Health, said, “Our study supports the notion that discrimination is harmful to health, specifically through alcohol.”

The observations made in the study are inadequate in their findings as the research papers which led to these findings failed to discuss about discrimination against ethnicities apart from African Americans and inequity experienced owing to religious biasness, sexual orientation, age or inadequate physical or mental health.

To what extent discrimination may result in aggravated drinking habit or alcohol abuse is not clear from the observations as an increasing number of Americans queue in front of rehabilitation centers for treatment of their drinking problems. The scientists have also failed to consider, in particular, the kind of social groups involved in heavy drinking, the nature of discrimination they are subjected to and the extent of their alcohol dependence.

Recovery road map

Drinking poses problems not only for the addicted, but also for the family and loved ones. It is not easy to get rid of the drinking habit. Prior studies have indicated how those suffering from alcoholism tend to look at other addiction sources to satiate their dependence. If drinking habit is not treated at an early stage, it can lead to trouble later.

If you or your loved one is fighting alcoholism, contact the 24/7 Recovery Helpline for necessary information on treatment centers for alcohol addiction. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-441-4405 or chat online for further expert advice on alcohol addiction rehab centers.

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