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Cultural and Familial Influences that Maintain the Negative Meaning of Alcohol

Patrick B. Johnson, Helen L. Johnson

Objective: The purpose of this overview is to highlight the ways that cultural and familial factors may buffer children and adolescents from initiating alcohol use. Method: This article uses the findings from studies of black and Hispanic adolescent and adult alcohol use to identify potentially important cultural and familial variables that buffer these groups from early alcohol use and misuse, abuse or dependence. Results: We begin with the notion that negative beliefs regarding alcohol and its effects protect young children from early alcohol involvement. We then consider how, for blacks and Hispanics, family structure, parent-child interaction patterns and value orientations function to maintain these negative belief schemas, thereby protecting children and adolescents from involvement with alcohol. Conclusions: We conclude by emphasizing the importance of studying nonmainstream groups who are more likely to abstain from alcohol use. In doing this, research can more easily identify those family practices that produce the negative beliefs about alcohol consumption and thereby prevent early experimentation and adolescent alcohol abuse. (J. Stud. Alcohol, Supplement No. 13: 79-83, 1999)