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Asian Americans, alcohol use and what the numbers show (or don't show)

May 21, 2010 |  6:15 pm

Beer Asian Americans drink less alcohol and binge on it less frequently, not to mention consume fewer illegal drugs, than other Americans. But the generalities stop there.

A new analysis of Asian American subgroups, using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, has found that Korean Americans are the most likely to consume alcohol in a given month and that Indian Americans are the least likely. Here's a closer look at past-month alcohol use among the various groups identified in the survey:

Korean Americans: 51.9%

Japanese Americans: 48.3% 

Chinese Americans: 41.3%

Vietnamese Americans: 38.7%

Filipino Americans: 38.1%

Indian Americans: 32.1%

The national average for all adults in the U.S. is 55.2%. The national average for Asian Americans is 39.8%.

When it comes to binge drinking over the last month, the numbers shake out this way.

Korean Americans: 25.9%

Filipino Americans: 15%

Japanese Americans: 14.5%

Vietnamese Americans: 14%

Indian Americans: 9.5%

Chinese Americans: 8.4%

Other ethnicity-related breakdowns by age,  gender and insurance status ensue. Here's the full alcohol use report, as offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 

Those are the stats, in any case. The report doesn't paint a fuller picture.

It does, however, explain the relevance of such breakdowns in this way:

As the Federal Government and States move forward with the interrelated tasks of reducing disparities and reforming health care, it will be important to monitor data on substance use and treatment need among racial/ethnic minorities. The findings in this report highlight variations in substance use and treatment need between Asian adults and adults in the Nation as a whole and suggest subgroups that may benefit from increased attention from the prevention and treatment systems.

Wait. There is one more generality: Asian Americans born in the U.S. are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs than are those born outside the U.S.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times