Why Is Alcoholism So Prevalent In Native Americans?

Alcohol and drug use affect people’s lives in one way or another. Being armed with the necessary drug-related information can help you help the ones struggling around you. We, All Hands Drug Treatment, have mandated ourselves with the task of giving you relevant information to keep your drug awareness knowledge up to date.

What you need to know about alcoholism prevalence in Native Americans

Several studies have revealed that Native Americans have the highest population of alcohol drinkers and addicts. Further studies have, also, shown that a significant percentage of Native Americans are more likely to indulge in alcohol, develop dependence and addiction, hence suffer alcoholism-related physical, mental, social and emotional effects. There is still no distinct explanation of why alcoholism is more prevalent in Native Americans compared to other races and tribes, but a few theories have been thrown into the works.

Theories about the high alcoholism prevalence in Native Americans

Alcohol metabolism

The consumption, metabolism, retention or excretion/ expulsion of alcohol from the body is regulated by alcohol metabolizing enzymes. Native Americans are said to have varying forms of the alcohol metabolizing enzymes, and as such, they metabolize alcohol differently from the way other people metabolize alcohol. Instead of the typical aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) and alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), Native Americans have the variant forms, ALDH1A1*2 allele, and ADH1B allele, respectively. These variant enzyme forms are thought to be the primary causes of the different alcohol metabolism that takes place in Native Americans’ bodies compared to the alcohol metabolism that takes place in other people’s bodies.

Economic and social factors

Apart from the genetic variation of the alcohol metabolizing enzymes, the prevalence of alcoholism in Native Americans is also thought to be environmentally and or culturally induced. Do Native Americans have a drinking culture that introduced its members to alcohol early in life? Do Native Americans face environmental conditions that predispose them to alcohol consumption? The answers to these questions are yet to be established without reasonable doubt.

Native Americans top the list of alcoholics in the United States. Although numerous researches have been conducted, and several theories proposed, there is still no proof of the specific factors that predispose Native Americans to alcohol abuse or addiction. Scientists are yet to determine with any reasonable certainty whether or not specific cultural, environmental and or genetic factors are the culprits for the high prevalence of alcoholism in Native Americans.

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