How Is Minority Alcoholism Like A Tree?

January 01 , 2022

This topic may seem too specific, and thus inapplicable to your overall practice, but please hear us out. Alcoholism in minorities is a big deal. And as a big deal, the topic deserves to be touched on. In fact, if you take the time to consider this perspective, you may find yourself looking at it in a brand new light.

The Roots of the Tree

You’re a psychologist and, as such, you are interested in the ways in which the mind works. Think of the mind as a tree, with the roots being the deepest part, and the leaves representing the immediate thoughts at the surface.

Alcohol abuse in minorities often starts with the roots. Of course, many psychological factors can influence a drinking problem, and some people in minority groups are at special risk of undergoing psychological distress. For instance, as you may know, the stress of poverty can be a huge inducer of alcoholism. Many of those in minorities live under just those conditions, making them more likely to abuse alcohol in their lifetimes. According to the Office of Minority Health, Hispanic people who live below the poverty level are actually three times more likely to undergo psychological distress than those living above it.

Biological factors can also influence a pattern of heavy drinking, and many people in minority groups can be predisposed to heavy drinking due to their genetic make-up. For example, as reported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Blacks with Caribbean ancestry consume less alcohol compared to other Blacks. Hispanics of Mexican or Mexican American ancestry, on the other hand, are more prone to drinking alcohol than Hispanics of Central/South American heritage.

The Trunk and the Leaves

Whether it’s poverty or any other factor, the “heart” of the problem germinates in the roots of the tree and then travels up through the trunk. As the real “culprit” journeys through the tree trunks of people’s minds, those individuals begin to crave something that will help them drown out their problems. Finally, the problem “sprouts” into the leaves of the tree, in this case turning into the thought, “I want a drink”—and, before long, “I need a drink”.

The Proof

We’ve just gone over the bare psychology of the matter, but now you want the facts. We’ve said that alcoholism in minorities is a real problem, but where is the proof?

Here are a few statistics taken from the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

  • Blacks and Hispanics are more likely to develop alcohol-related liver diseases than whites.
  • Self-reported DUI rates are preeminent among mixed race/Native Americans and Alaska Natives.

NIH also reported that, other than unemployment, high risk factors for minority alcoholism include younger age and the role of religion in one’s life, while older age and retirement are often “protective factors” against heavy drinking.

Repairing the Roots

There may be no immediate way to ensure that alcoholism in minorities diminishes. However, being aware of the problems alcohol abuse presents in minority groups is a step in the right direction. By pinpointing the psychological “roots” of the matter, we are more capable of lending aid and thoughtfully changing the patterns of alcoholism for the better.