The Hispanic Americans Baseline Alcohol Survey (HABLAS): rates and predictors of alcohol abuse and dependence across Hispanic national groups

J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2008 May;69(3):441-8. doi: 10.15288/jsad.2008.69.441.


Objective: The primary purpose of this article is to report 12-month prevalence rates and predictors of alcohol abuse and dependence among Mexican Americans, Cuban Americans, Puerto Ricans, and South/Central Americans living in the United States.

Method: Using a multistage cluster sample design, a total of 5,224 individuals 18 years of age and older were selected from the household population in five metropolitan areas of the United States: Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Houston, and Los Angeles. The survey weighted response rate was 76%. Personal interviews lasting an average of 1 hour were conducted in respondents' homes either in English or Spanish.

Results: There is considerable heterogeneity in rates of abuse and dependence across these national groups, with Mexican American and Puerto Rican men having higher rates than Cuban American and South/Central American men. The rates of dependence for Mexican American and Puerto Rican men are also higher than those for men in the U.S. general population. Further, although the highest rates of abuse and dependence are among those in their 20s, the rate decline with age is not as strong as in the U.S. population. Thus, Hispanics at older ages (40-49, 50-59) are at considerably more risk of dependence and its health consequences than the U.S. general population. This is particularly true of Puerto Rican and Mexican American men.

Conclusions: Future analysis must take this heterogeneity into consideration by conducting national group-specific analysis. Prevention efforts must also be guided by these findings, which suggest that Puerto Ricans and Mexican Americans are at higher risk for abuse, dependence, and the associated consequences than the other two groups of U.S. Hispanics.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / ethnology*
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans / psychology
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States