Points Bibliography: Ethnic, Racial, and Cultural Contexts of Recovery in North America

Editor’s Note:  These entries are part of an ongoing drug-related dissertation bibliography being compiled by Jonathon Erlen. They were formerly published in the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs journal but are now periodically featured on the Points blog. For more information, contact Dr. Erlen through the link above.

Alcohol Use and Risk Drinking in Ontario Ethnic Groups

Author: Agic, Branka

Abstract: This thesis examines the prevalence and patterns of alcohol consumption among Ontario ethnic groups, as well as socio-demographic and cultural factors that increase or reduce their vulnerability to risk drinking. A mixed methods approach was applied. Qualitative data were obtained through focus group discussions with the key informants and community members from seven Ontario communities: the Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Tamil, Punjabi, Serbian and Somali. Quantitative data were derived from the CAMH Monitor, a cross-sectional survey of Ontario adults, collected between January 2005 and December 2010 (N=13,557). The results show higher prevalence of self-reported lifetime, current and risk drinking among the Canadian and the European-origin groups compared with other ethnic groups. Within-group gender differences were evident for all ethnic groups, with the narrowest gender gap being observed within the North European group and the widest in the South Asian group. First generation immigrants have generally lower prevalence of alcohol consumption and risk drinking than Canadian-born respondents, with foreign born individuals from the European groups reporting higher rates of alcohol use and risk drinking than other groups. While previous studies generally found an increase in immigrants’ alcohol consumption with years in Canada, our data suggest that longer duration of residence may have either positive or negative effects on immigrants’ alcohol use, depending on the country of origin/traditional drinking pattern. Although the non-European ethnic groups have higher rates of abstinence and lower alcohol consumption rates, a considerable proportion of people from these ethnic groups may be at risk of alcohol-related harm due to risky and harmful alcohol consumption patterns. Drinking levels that are considered ‘normal’ or ‘excessive’, the type and size of alcoholic beverages, and the perception of the risks and problems related to alcohol use are largely shaped by cultural norms and beliefs. Socio-economic disadvantages and barriers to service utilization heighten the minority ethnic groups’ vulnerability to alcohol-related problems. This theses contributes new and important evidence on the prevalence and patterns of alcohol consumption in Canada’s ethnic groups, and factors that contribute to risk drinking. The findings have significant implications for prevention and service provision, particularly for minority ethnic groups that are already marginalized and unlikely to access mainstream services.

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