In Terms of Drinking, the Rich Are Different, Study Says

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 10 (HealthDay News) -- People who live in low-income neighborhoods in the United States are generally less likely to drink alcohol than those in rich neighborhoods, but certain groups of people in low-income neighborhoods are at increased risk for problem drinking, a new study finds.

Black and Hispanic men in low-income neighborhoods are more likely to drink than those in high-income neighborhoods, and black men in disadvantaged neighborhoods are more likely to be heavy drinkers, the researchers found.

The survey of nearly 14,000 adults also found that when black men and white women from poor neighborhoods drink, they are more likely to suffer drinking-related consequences such as physical fights, run-ins with police and trouble at work, compared to black men and white women in better-off neighborhoods.

The study appears in the November issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

"There are a lot of aspects of your environment that can affect your drinking behavior and what happens when you do choose to drink," lead researcher Katherine Karriker-Jaffe, of the Public Health Institute's Alcohol Research Group in Emeryville, Calif., said in a journal news release.

For example, while poor neighborhoods may have a lot of bars and other places to get alcohol, people's drinking may be reduced by having less disposable income to afford alcohol or cultural beliefs that discourage drinking, she noted.

The study findings point to a fairly complex relationship between living in a poor neighborhood and drinking, but it's not clear why there are racial and gender differences, Karriker-Jaffe said.

The higher rate of heavy drinking among black men in poor neighborhoods could be related to the many sources of stress in their lives, she suggested.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, news release, Oct. 9, 2012