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Puerto Ricans in US have highest rate of alcohol use disorders, says study

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a chronic and relapsing disease of the brain characterized by loss of control over the intake, compulsive use and a negative emotional state when not abusing the substance. As per statistics, in 2016, about one in 18 Americans (aged 12 or older) or 15.1 million had an AUD.

Puerto Ricans comprise 9.5 percent of the Hispanic population, the second largest Hispanic group in the U.S. As compared to any of the Hispanic national groups in the country, Puerto Ricans living in the U.S. have some of the highest rates of drinking, AUD and binge drinking.

With the aim to examine lifetime criteria profiles and the corresponding severity of AUD cases in Puerto Rico, a recent study used data from a random sample of individuals aged 18-64 years in San Juan. As per the analysis, the prevalence of AUD as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) was found to be 38 percent in native men and 16 percent in women. Mild AUD was present in 18 percent men and 9 percent women. The most common criteria involved drinking larger quantities of alcohol, for longer duration of times and using it in a hazardous manner.

Knowing what is AUD

Although a few mild symptoms can signal the start of a drinking problem, AUD is diagnosed when one’s drinking causes distress or harm. Continued use despite knowing its harmful health consequences is a warning sign that the user needs help. AUD is a pattern of alcohol use that includes periods of high intoxication and withdrawal symptoms. Basis on the problems that one experiences and the number of criteria met, AUD can be classified as mild, moderate or severe.

Under the DSM, a person meeting any two out of 11 criteria during a given year qualifies for a diagnosis of AUD. The criteria include questions such as if the person felt sick after drinking or experienced strong craving; if the person continued drinking despite having troubles with family or friends; if efforts were made to cut down drinking but couldn’t; and if while or after drinking the person got hurt more than once like in case of driving or unsafe sex.

Risk factors for increased AUDs among Puerto Ricans

As per the study findings, the prevalence rates for some of the criteria outlined above were found to be equally high across the three DSM levels and poorly differentiate between mild, moderate or severe DSM-5 AUD. While the socio-demographic and alcohol-related risks vary across these levels, AUD prevalence was found to be high in San Juan residents.

The factors that increased risks across all DSM-5 AUD severity levels included positive attitude towards drinking, prevalent drinking norms, weekly drinking frequency, greater volume of alcohol use per drinking session and male gender. In addition, factors such as Protestant religion, greater negative attitudes toward drinking and less family coherence were associated with higher AUD severity levels. According to the researchers, the findings will help understand drinking problems on the island and among Puerto Ricans on the mainland.

Path to sobriety

Considered to be a public health crisis among Americans, alcohol-related causes claim an estimated 88,000 American lives each year. AUD can be treated provided one seeks help in time and adheres to the treatment. A holistic treatment plan for overcoming alcohol addiction may involve detox followed by psychotherapy under the guidance of trained medical health professionals.

If you know someone battling an addiction to alcohol, it’s time to get professional help. At the 24/7 Recovery Helpline, we can help you or your loved one find the best alcohol rehab treatment basis your needs. Call us at our 24/7 helpline (855) 441-4405 or chat online with experts to find the finest alcohol rehab treatment center where recovery is facilitated in a serene environment.

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