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The Co-occurrence of Alcohol Abuse in Alcohol Dependence Among a Treatment Sample of Asian/Pacific Islanders

Goebert, Deborah DrPH; Park, Charles MD; Nishimura, Stephanie PhD

Addictive Disorders & Their Treatment: September 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 3 - p 112-116
doi: 10.1097/ADT.0b013e3181d36cd2
Original Articles

Objectives Alcohol abuse is not always linked to alcohol dependence in the general population, especially among minorities and women. These studies have excluded Asian and Pacific Islanders from analyses. We examine the prevalence of alcohol dependence with and without alcohol abuse among a treatment sample in Hawaii.

Methods Two hundred twenty-five participants were recruited from 2 major residential treatment programs in Hawaii for an 89% response rate. Participants were interviewed as soon as possible after their admission, generally within the first week. Abuse and dependence criteria were assessed with the Diagnostic Interview Schedule.

Results One hundred and eighteen (52%) met criteria for alcohol dependence. Among respondents with current alcohol dependence, 17% did not additionally meet criteria for abuse among clients at facilities in Hawaii. Current dependence without abuse occurred more frequently among Native Hawaiian clients (20%) and less frequently among Asian clients (11%). Although the number of women in the study was small, current dependence without abuse occurred more frequently among women (25%) compared with men (14%).

Conclusions This study contributes to the current state of knowledge with regards to co-occurrence of alcohol abuse and dependence among ethnic groups in Hawaii. It will help treatment facilities develop a better understanding of the individuals seeking treatment in an effort to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that will take into account ethnic considerations. In addition, the use of alcohol abuse as a screening method for alcohol dependence in epidemiologic studies may underestimate the prevalence of dependence among Pacific Islanders, further limiting access to services for this underserved group.

Alcohol Research Center of Hawaii, Department of Psychiatry, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii

Reprints: Deborah Goebert, DrPH, Department of Psychiatry, University of Hawaii, John A. Burns School of Medicine, 1356 Lusitana Street, 4th Floor, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813 (e-mail:

This research was supported by the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and NIH Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD).

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.