Why we need to know how all communities drink
Rhondell Stabana, Co-founder of Yada Collective and Sober Black Britain in Derby discusses a lack of representation in alcohol harm research and beyond.
The Yada Collective was first created as a social enterprise and venue that allowed people to connect without the pressure to drink back in 2020. But soon after, we saw a need to represent all communities. In fact, it’s what we didn’t see that was the issue. In 2022, we launched Sober Black Britain.
In developing YADA, we’ve got to meet and connect with some real pioneers in the alcohol-free and mindful drinking space. People who had started charities, alcohol-free breweries and distilleries, podcasters and influencers, sober communities, and more. In many of these there was a great diversity of gender and sexuality (shout out to the work of Club Soda and Queers Without Beers) but sadly there was no real representation or understanding of how Black communities and People of Colour drink.
Lack of research
So what do we know so far? Unfortunately, not too much. There is a lack of research into the drinking culture of BAME communities and that is part of the reason we started this project. BAME communities, like all communities, have good and bad relationships with alcohol. Although it is widely known that these communities have a strong abstinence culture, some service providers argue that the prevalence of problematic drinking is underestimated because of this assumption. But alongside this culture of abstinence, comes a culture of shame. In many communities of colour, mental health issues are often not openly spoken about.
In 2022, Drinkaware found that 19% of drinkers with anxiety or depression from a BAME ethnic group scored possible dependent (20+) on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) compared to the national average (9% of UK adults who drink).1
Furthermore, a recent study published by Alcohol Change UK stated that 7 in 10 BAME respondents (68%) said they had drunk for a mental health reason over the past six months (during the pandemic), compared to just 4 in 10 (41%) people from white British backgrounds.2 A worrying figure that signals a gap in our understanding of how and why these ethnically diverse communities drink as well as the social, cultural and environmental factors that might impact their drinking.
A community-led solution
With the lack of a clear understanding of the issues around alcohol misuse in BAME communities, it is even more difficult to intervene with appropriate support.
In 2022, Drinkaware found that 8% of drinkers from a BAME ethnic group scored possible dependent (20+) on the AUDIT compared to the national average (4% of UK adults who drink).3
There is no single ‘best’ means of providing interventions to minority communities, what people are likely to engage with differs between and within communities1. However, interventions should be more bespoke and ideally created and led by those within the communities that are being targeted. Research points to the fact that BAME communities tend to look for support from within their own communities. And having a shared identity, whether that be lived experience, culture, or ethnicity is fundamental to creating trust and increasing the uptake of support networks.4
How to speak up for inclusivity
The rise in sobriety or more mindful drinking is one that should include all cultures and it’s important that more sober communities are created that represent our diverse UK population. We want to see more Black communities and People of Colour being given a platform to speak about how alcohol affects their communities and what we can do to support those who want to live differently. We also need to invest more resources in research to help us understand how and why these ethnically diverse communities drink.
If you’d like to share your experience with alcohol, we’d love to hear from you. The more voices the better. Whether you are a mindful drinker, sober curious, sober or looking for peer support, please DM us on Instagram at YadaCollective or SoberBlackBritain.
And, if you’re looking to connect with a sober community near you, have a look at our Sober Communities Map: https://yadacollective.co.uk/insight/discover-your-nearest-alcohol-free-community.
Drinkaware also have a helpful list of alcohol support services that cater to minority ethnic groups if you would like to get in touch with someone to help you with your drinking.
Find out more
- BAME was the term used for this research. BAME figure: Total sample size was 1,008 BAME adults, with 652 BAME adults who drink alcohol. Fieldwork was undertaken between 29th April - 29th May 2022. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all BAME adults (aged 18+). UK average figure: Total sample size was 6,318 adults, with 5,428 adults who drink alcohol, and 1,497 adults who drink who have screened positive for anxiety or depression. Fieldwork was undertaken between 29th April - 26th May 2022. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
- Gleeson, H., Thom, B., Bayley, M., & McQuarrie, T. (2019). Rapid evidence review: Drinking problems and interventions in black and minority ethnic communities. Alcohol Change UK.
- BAME figure: Total sample size was 1,008 BAME adults, with 652 BAME adults who drink alcohol. Fieldwork was undertaken between 29th April - 29th May 2022. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all BAME adults (aged 18+). UK average figure: Total sample size was 6,318 adults, with 5,428 adults who drink alcohol. Fieldwork was undertaken between 29th April - 26th May 2022. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
- Bashir, N., Ameyaw, N., Sahota, S., Bajwa, M., & Dayson, C. (2019). Culture, connection and belonging: a study of addiction and recovery in Nottingham’s BAME community.
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