Alcohol Use Disorder in the API Community

Alcohol Use Disorder in the API Community

Asian-American Pacific Islanders, also known as the API Community, are one of the fastest-growing minority groups in America. Due to model minority stereotypes and a lack of empirical data, the API community has been thought to have lower than expected rates of substance use disorders and behavioral addictions. However, alcohol use disorder in the API Community still exists, and it presents its own set of unique issues compared to other ethnicities and communities. These can include specific risk factors and barriers to treatment that other groups do not face.

What is the API Community?

In 1968, the term “Asian American” was coined by Yuji Ichioka and Emma Gee and other student activists as a strategic, unifying political identity for Asian ethnic groups to use as they resisted white Americans’ use of “Oriental” as a derogatory term for Asians in the United States. By the 1980s, the U.S. Census Bureau grouped persons of Asian ancestry and created the category “Asian Pacific Islander,” which continued in the 1990s census. In 2000, “Asian” and “Pacific Islander” became two separate racial categories.

The U.S. Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs defined Asian-Pacific Islander as “A person with origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, South Asia, or the Pacific Islands.” This includes areas such as:

  • China
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • The Philippines
  • Samoa
  • India
  • Pakistan
  • Bangladesh
  • Sri Lanka
  • Nepal
  • Bhutan
  • Vietnam
  • Laos
  • Cambodia
  • Fiji
  • Guam
  • The U.S. Trust Territories of the Pacific or the Northern Marianas

Statistics on Alcohol Use Disorder in the API Community

  • There are nearly 1.5 million American Pacific Islanders.
    64 percent of Asians and Pacific Islanders (APIs) admitted to an addiction treatment program reported alcohol as their primary substance of abuse, compared to 60 percent of all admissions
  • Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders struggled with alcohol addiction more often than other races
  • While Asian Americans have the lowest prevalence of alcohol use disorders (3.0% compared to around 6.0% overall) they are the least likely to get help
  • Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islander high school students had some of the highest alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use among the API community

Risk Factors for Alcohol Use Disorder in the API Community

As part of a growing minority group, the API Community faces a particular set of challenges that many other people may not experience. These risk factors can contribute to alcohol use disorder in the API Community. The risk factors include:

  • Discrimination. As a minority group, people in the API Community could suffer from discrimination on a regular basis, which can be difficult to deal with, and alcohol may be used as a coping mechanism.
  • Bullying. Bullying is a type of discrimination. Consequently, young people in the API Community may be more prone to alcohol use to cope with the bullying they experience, or as a way to fit in. The younger an individual is exposed to alcohol use, the more likely they are to suffer from addiction later in life.
  • Social pressures. Every community has different cultural and social expectations and, among the API Community, these pressures may be too great for many individuals to deal with.
  • High stress. This is a major cause of alcohol use disorder among all people, but since the API Community experiences higher levels of discrimination, bullying, and cultural pressures, their stress levels may be higher.

Barriers to Treatment

While there are barriers to treatment that can affect every person, such as paying for treatment or family obligations, the API Community and other minority groups face additional barriers to treatment. These can include:

  • Cultural stigma
  • Social stigma
  • Language barriers
  • Religious beliefs
  • Guilt or shame
  • Mental health stigma
  • Limited access to treatment due to living in remote areas

About Cliffside Malibu

While the API Community is the least likely group to suffer from alcohol use disorder, they are still suffering. Worst of all, they are the least likely group to seek treatment. This makes finding the right treatment center extremely important — a place where individuals feel understood, accepted, cared for, and free of judgment. Cliffside Malibu is that place.

Since no two addictions are the same, Cliffside Malibu offers an individualized treatment plan for every client. We are committed to providing evidence-based treatment through a continuum of care model including medically supervised detox, residential treatment, day treatment, and outpatient services. Our program also includes family therapy and holistic therapy, as well. Whether an individual is suffering from substance abuse and/or alcohol addiction, our programs are structured to create a supportive environment where healing can begin.

In addition to world-class treatment, Cliffside Malibu offers luxury accommodations, a serene environment, five-star dining, and plentiful amenities. We understand that addiction treatment is a rigorous process. Therefore, we provide for your comfort and relaxation at every turn, allowing you to rejuvenate, and meet the demands of treatment with your greatest energy and attention.

For more information on Cliffside Malibu, visit

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