Are we missing vital information? Hispanic Women with Alcohol Abuse and Mental Disorders

One of the biggest things that have I have become aware of since coming to college is the increase in awareness of alcohol abuse within the Hispanic/Latinx community. While looking for research topics for my paper, I noticed an underrepresentation of research in mental disorders and alcohol abuse within the Hispanic population.[1] Let’s take a closer look at the population in general.

The Recorder - Cultural evolution: Hispanic population carves ...

What do the numbers look like?

Let’s begin by comparing women in different ethnic backgrounds in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2018 who’ve had alcohol dependency or abuse in the past year.[2]


White Women 


Black Women 


Asian Women 

Hispanic Women 
Alcohol dependence or abuse (in the past year)B  % (95% CIC)  9.99 









ANSDUH 2018: Race/Hispanicity 

BNSDUH 2018: Had alcohol dependence or abuse in the past year 

C: CI means Confidence Interval 

When looking at just the percentages from the 2018 survey, we see that among the minorities, women who identified as Hispanic had the largest percentage of alcohol dependence or abuse in the past year compared to Non-Hispanic Black women and Non-Hispanic Asian women. There is a high percentage of abuse among Latinas but there isn’t enough research on how to help women with this cultural background.

So, what’s the reason behind this? Let’s start with understanding Hispanic culture and the relationship that they have with mental disorders.

Latin Americans and Barriers to Mental Health

Now in order to understand why further research hasn’t been done, it’s important to learn about the barriers that can stop people from seeking help. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has identified key factors that could prevent Hispanics from seeking help.[3]

  • Cultural barriers, language barriers, and other barriers to communication
  • Issues with discrimination and even perceived discrimination
  • Fears of being singled out or persecuted
  • The level of acculturation achieved by the particular individual
  • Barriers to access to medical care
  • Cultural views of treatment for addiction
  • Family responsibilities that may result in some individuals not seeking treatment
  • Stigma or shame associated with being diagnosed with an addiction or alcohol use disorder or being in treatment for one
  • Obvious issues with undocumented immigrants, such as the fear of deportation, fears of persecution, lack of resources, etc.

Overcoming Mental Health Stigma in the Latino Community – Consult QD

One of the key points that resonates the strongest among Hispanics is the very first bullet point. Current research has shown that immigrants who reject American culture are 10x less likely to report alcohol abuse than immigrants who accept American culture. Those who accept American culture are more suspectable to peer pressure with alcohol abuse and even more likely to develop chronic and recurring problems associated with their addictive behavior. [4]

How to Treat Hispanic Women with Alcohol Abuse and Mental Disorders

The first step is to realize the cultural differences in the Hispanic culture will also translate when treating mental health disorders associated with alcohol abuse. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, there are guidelines to follow for those coming from Hispanic cultures.[5] The first step is to be able to find someone who speaks the language. In the United States, language barriers are an issue when trying to help immigrant communities, not just Hispanics.

Finding someone who has the same cultural background is a hurdle in getting help and recovering. The lack of representation is something that does stop many from seeking help as most believe that no one will be able to relate to what they have gone through. This includes views on how Hispanics see alcohol consumption, how gender roles affect alcohol consumption, and lastly the stigma toward mental health in general.

A big cultural factor affecting recovery is how family-oriented the Hispanic household is. The biggest thing when someone seeks help for substance use disorder is therapy. Therefore, family therapy is strongly recommended to help Hispanics on the road to recovery. In fact, recent studies have shown that Hispanic families relied more on extended family more than friends.[6] In a recent study by the American Psychological Association showed that acculturation is needed in order to expand ethnic inclusivity in research and improve practices for minorities dealing with mental health disorders. [7]The History and Effects of Mental Health Trauma in the Hispanic ...

Now and Beyond

Currently, there are programs being expanded in order to help the Latinx community. For example, the SAMHSA website outlines different programs to help combat the stigma in mental health and substance abuse written in both English & Spanish.[8] Programs include teaching parents/caregivers’ methods to talk to adolescents about the harm that can come from alcohol abuse. The website also includes clinics and healthcare professional guidelines on how to help those in Hispanic culture with alcohol abuse.

There is still a strong need to expand representation in all fields regarding mental health and alcohol abuse. As the Hispanic population grows in the United States, so will the research and practices will become refined.



  1. “Alcohol and the Hispanic Community.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 26 June 2019,
  2. SAMHDA. (20 May, 2020). National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2018. Retrieved from!=6,3,4&results_received=false&row=ABODALC&run_chisq=false&weight=ANALWT_C  
  1. “Information on Hispanic Alcoholism & Rehab Rates.” org, 13 Dec. 2019,
  2. Myers, Raquel, et al. “Acculturation and Substance Use: Social Influence as a Mediator among Hispanic Alternative High School Youth.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior, U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2009,
  3. “CSAT.” gov, 14 Apr. 2020,
  4. Alvarez, Josefina, et al. “Substance Abuse Prevalence and Treatment among Latinos and Latinas.” Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2007,
  5. Berry JW. Conceptual approaches to acculturation. In: Chun KM, Organista PB, Marin G, editors. Acculturation: Advances in theory, measurement, and applied research. Washington, D. C.: American Psychological Association; 2003. pp. 17–38. 
  6. Schwartz, S. J., & Zamboanga, B. L. (2008). Testing Berry’s model of acculturation: A confirmatory latent class approach. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 14(4), 275–285.

Is it abuse or is it coping? Alcohol consumption among women during COVID-19

Imagine yourself as a working-class mom, being couped up into a house with 3 other children and a partner. It’s been a long day of working on a computer, laboring over a screen, scheduling meetings, and making video calls. Now, you have to make dinner for the family after being hunched over a computer and trying to keep your children distracted so that you can work. Do Women Experience More Stress Than Men? - Experience Life

Or imagine the opposite. You’ve been working all day with no one to talk to because you’re living in a one-bedroom apartment by yourself with a pet to keep you company.

What is the definition of alcohol abuse?

Either scenario, you have the strong urge to sit down, and make yourself a glass of wine to wind down or a fruity drink to liven your mood. It’s easy to fall into a habit that chews a bit more off than what we expect. Moderate drinking per the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines moderate drinking where a, a woman can drink up to four drinks a week; for men, it’s five. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines eight drinks or more per week for women as “high risk” or “heavy” drinking.

So what leads women to get to that point? Easy. Women are more prone to stress than the male counterpart, which leads to greater stress in women with the social stigmas associated with being a woman. Those who are mothers will experience greater amounts of stress to be the perfect mother, being able to juggle work, house chores, and the new added responsibility of ensuring students are keeping up with the new home-school work.

What leads to alcohol abuse?

In 2019, reports of binge drinking among women were 12% reporting to have binged-drink 3 times a month, with an average of 5 drinks per binge. At least 2.5% of women have reported being dependent on alcohol in the same year. These numbers are expected to increase as long as stay-at-home orders continue for the year 2020.

Alcohol can be seen as an easy sedative that allows the body to feel relaxed and not to have to worry about being wound up with these responsibilities. The problem with alcohol consumption is that it can also impair your judgment, which can lead to an increased risk of conflict and domestic violence. It also leads to heightened symptoms of panic, anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders.

What to do if you think you are dependent?

So you’ve arrived at the end of the blog post and you think you been misusing alcohol? The best thing to do is to stop, say doctors. But, please seek help, especially if you are dependent on alcohol. 



Strategies for reducing alcohol use or to stop, are to think about the new environment we’re in. Allow yourself to readjust to this new environment. Also, try to reduce the amount you are drinking. Being able to reduce how much you drink shows that you aren’t dependent on alcohol. If you can’t, please seek out professional help that can guide you on how to make the adjustment. But, the worst thing to do is wait until it gets so bad that you can’t see an end.


  1. “Stress Drinking: Alcohol Consumption Increases During COVID-19.” University of Utah Health, 23 Apr. 2020,
  3. “Women and Stress.” Cleveland Clinic, 13 Feb. 2019,
  4. “Excessive Alcohol Use and Risks to Women’s Health.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 Dec. 2019,
  5. Purtill, Corinne. “Quarantini Anyone? When Everyday Drinking Becomes a Problem.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 30 Apr. 2020,
  6. “Drinking Too Much Alcohol Can Harm Your Health. Learn the Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 Dec. 2019,