Alcohol use and cultural change in an indigenous population: A case study from Venezuela

J. Paul Seale, Sylvia Shellenberger, Carlos Rodriguez, Josiah D. Seale, Manuel Alvarado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Aims: To explore the historical and cultural context of problem drinking in a Latin American indigenous population and identify possible areas for intervention. Methods: Focus group discussions. Results: Participants reported that prior to 1945, binge drinking and fighting were part of cultural festivals held several times each year. Alcohol was brewed in limited quantities by specially qualified individuals. Limited family violence and injuries resulted. Increasing contact with Western civilization resulted in year-round access to large supplies of commercial alcohol and exposure to alcohol-misusing role models. Increased heavy drinking and decreases in subsistence farming resulted in escalation of problems, including hunger, serious injury, family violence, divorce and legal problems. Communities are beginning to regain control by prohibiting sale of alcohol in villages, sponsoring alcohol-free celebrations, and increasing involvement in religious activities. Conclusions: Though alcohol may cause devastating consequences in cultures in transition, studies of community responses may identify useful strategies for reducing alcohol-related harm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)603-608
Number of pages6
JournalAlcohol and Alcoholism
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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