The Center provides resources, training, data and statistical expertise for the study of alcohol-related health, mental health and social problem disparities in the US arising from differences between racial/ethnic and socioeconomic group and sexual identity and rurality. Research projects provide insights in to the drinking of those with alcohol-related health conditions, racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in alcohol-related problems, the role of inflammation in associations between alcohol use and mental health issues, disparities in access and utilization of screening for alcohol problems, use of pharmacotherapy and treatment completion, co- use of alcohol and other drugs, and events involving high-intensity drinking and drinkers who participate in them.
Knowledge gained furthers our understanding of alcohol-related disparities and will strengthen the design, implementation and targeting of interventions to address these. The Center, building on its groundbreaking conceptual and methodological contributions for over 40 years, studies the complex interactions between drinking patterns across the life-course, demographic characteristics, sociocultural and drinking contexts, community and policy factors, and problem outcomes, both in the general population and with attention to high-risk subgroups.
Although research on alcohol-related disparities among women is a highly understudied area, evidence shows that racial/ethnic minority women, sexual minority women, and women of low socioeconomic status (based on education, income, or residence in disadvantaged neighborhoods) are more likely to experience alcohol-related problems. These problems include alcohol use disorder, particularly after young adulthood, and certain alcohol-related health, morbidity, and mortality outcomes. To understand alcohol-related disparities among women, several factors should be considered.
In new research that compares drinking rates across racial/ethnic groups, American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) people who currently drink report more instances of high intensity drinking than other groups. However, when considering the population as a whole, and with childhood trauma and family history of problem drinking added to the model, the difference between groups disappears, suggesting that social determinants and family history may largely account for the disparities in heavy drinking among AI/AN people who drink compared to other racial/ethnic groups.
People living in US counties on the US-Mexico border are less likely to die of alcohol- and drug-related consequences than people living in off-border counties. The study is the first to use data from all four US border states to examine whether people living in border counties have higher or lower rates of alcohol- and drug-related mortality compared to people living in interior counties.
In the first study to identify clustered risk health behaviors among white, Black, and Hispanic/Latinx people, findings illustrate the need to develop tailored multi-behavioral interventions to address racial disparities in health outcomes. Risky drinking, cigarette smoking, poor diet, and physical inactivity were used to asses health harms with analysis showing a relatively healthy lifestyle class (having a relatively low prevalence of the four risk behaviors) among white participants (49%) and Hispanic/Latinx participants (22%), but not among Black participants.
Alcohol consumption patterns changed significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic when compared to the pre-pandemic period. While the proportions of the population that were drinking and drinking with a risky pattern declined, particularly among men, there was a substantial increase in the proportion of the population who drank every day and who reported symptoms of moderate to severe alcohol use disorder.
People with a lifetime alcohol use disorder (AUD) who used cannabis more frequently had 2.83 times the number of drinks and experienced 6.82 times greater odds of alcohol-related harms than abstainers. Mid-level cannabis users also had an increased number of heavy drinking episodes and greater odds of alcohol dependence, compared to people who didn’t use cannabis.
A lifecourse study looks at how drinking affects health over a 30-year period and finds people who consume high-levels of alcohol may be at an increased risk of developing high blood pressure. Results showed that women who drank more than 14 drinks per week were 1.57 times more likely to develop hypertension than women who drank seven or fewer drinks per week.
Cancer survivors were more likely to report heavy drinking and more frequent heavy drinking occasions compared to others at the same ages with similar drinking histories. When racial and ethnic group-specific effects were evaluated, this increased heavy drinking was found to occur among women and White drinkers, while no increase was found among Black or Hispanic people who drank.
Some racial and ethnic groups are not receiving adequate screening for alcohol use in clinical settings. The study looked at predictors such as gender, age, race and ethnicity, education, and insurance status, and their interaction of alcohol screening quality. Results showed that Hispanic, Black, and Other racial and ethnic respondents generally received quality alcohol screening less often than White respondents.
In the first assessment to consider the moderating effect of pre-existing parity state laws, study results showed no significant change in US alcohol treatment rates after the Federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). However, when including the local parity laws, states with coverage and partial parity (CPP) saw a significant increase in treatment admissions.
Looking at the interplay between state-level alcohol policies, binge-drinking rates, and socioeconomic status (SES) and their effect on harms caused by someone else’s drinking, study findings highlight the roles of two state-level contextual factors—binge drinking rates and socioeconomic status—in the effects of alcohol policies on alcohol harms due to others’ drinking.
Increasing taxes on specific types of alcohol and implementing policies that reduce its availability have differing effects on specific subgroups. The study is the first to address gaps in alcohol policy research by examining how such broad-based initiatives aimed at reducing drinking and its related consequences vary across gender and racial/ethnic groups.
In the US, adults under age forty living in states with more restrictive alcohol policies experience fewer aggression- and drink-driving-related harms from someone else’s drinking than those in states with weaker policies. Results showed that for a 10-point increase in restrictiveness of an alcohol policy scale, the odds of experiencing such secondhand harms was 16 percent lower.
People living in neighborhoods with higher levels of social cohesion experience fewer harms from a stranger’s drinking. The study examined the ways a neighborhood’s social environment—alcohol availability, places where people drink, and social cohesion—influence the harms a person experiences from someone else’s alcohol use.
In the first study to of cannabis’ secondhand harms found that among Washington State adults, 8.4% of respondents reported experiencing harm because of someone else’s cannabis use compared to 21.5% from alcohol use in the past 12 months. The types of harms reported included threats or harassment, vandalism, physical harm, harms related to driving, or financial or family problems.
In an analysis of US national survey data — some 21% of women and 23% of men, an estimated 53 million adults, experienced harm because of someone else’s drinking in the last 12 months. These harms could be threats or harassment, ruined property or vandalism, physical aggression, harms related to driving, or financial or family problems. The most common harm was threats or harassment, reported by 16% of survey respondents.