Certain ethnic and racial minorities as well as other underserved populations experience more negative consequences of illness and premature death than other groups. These health disparities often affect groups including:

  • Hispanics
  • Blacks
  • Native Americans
  • Rural and economically disadvantaged populations

While Hispanics and Blacks have relatively fewer alcohol use disorders than do non-Hispanic  whites, ethnic and racial disparities still exist for alcohol-related diseases, problems, and deaths in these groups.  These disparities are evident in:

Patterns of drinking
In general, Hispanics and Blacks have higher rates of complete abstinence from alcohol than non-Hispanic whites and other groups.  But those who do drink consume more alcohol and often have higher rates of binge drinking. 

Alcohol and health consequences

  • Cirrhosis death rates are very high among white Americans of Hispanic origin, lower among non-Hispanic Blacks, and lower still among non-Hispanic whites.1
  • Hispanics and Blacks have a higher risk for developing alcohol-related liver disease than whites.2
  • Alcohol-related traffic deaths are many times more frequent among Native Americans or Alaska natives than among other minorities.3
  • Self-reported rates of DUI are highest among mixed race and Native Americans and Alaska Natives.4
  • Hispanics are overrepresented among drunk drivers and DUI-related fatalities.5
  • Between 2001 and 2005, alcohol played a role in 11.7 percent of all Native American deaths, which is more than twice the rates of the general American public.6

NIAAA research addresses health disparities in the following areas:


Epidemiology and Prevention Research

Treatment and Health Services Research

Neuroscience Research

Infrastructure Development

Learn more about NIAAA’s strategy on addressing Health Disparities.

1 2009-2013 Health Disparities Strategic Plan, p.4 

2 Ibid, p.4

3 Ibid, p.4

4 Ibid, p.4

5 Ibid, p.4

6 Ethnicity and Health Disparities in Alcohol Research, Chartier and Caetano http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh40/152-160.htm