Ethnic minorities made up 29% of the U.S. population in 2000. Cultural attitudes exert a powerful influence on drinking behaviors and response to treatment. It has been shown that although cultural approval may increase the accessibility of alcohol, ritualistic use of the drug by the culture may help to inhibit abuse or dependence (Westermeyer, 1986). The lower rates of drinking problems among Italian Americans, Italians, and Jews have been explained by the traditional use of wine in these groups; integration of drinking into family life; and, in the Jewish drinkers, the religious significance attached to alcohol. However, even ethnic groups with ritualistic use patterns do not consistently show low incidences of alcoholism or alcoholic complications. For example, the French have relatively high rates of alcoholism and cirrhosis.
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