Research Article - (2015) Volume 4, Issue 2

Culture-Specific Characteristics of Alcohol Related Disorders and Culture- Sensitive Approach in Ethiopian Immigrants and Ethnic Arabic Groups in Israel


Israel, being a multi-cultural society, faces different unhealthy alcohol intake patterns among various ethnic groups, which in turn need to be addressed in a culture sensitive manner. This article focuses, as an example to the complexity of the issue, on two diverse ethnical groups- the new Jewish immigrants of Ethiopian origin and the Arab population in Israel. The great heterogeneity within these two populations themselves is presented. The Arab speaking population is diverse- most of which are Muslims of different sects, including Bedouins, whose religion prohibits alcohol intake; Christians of different denominations, Druze, Samaritans and others. The Ethiopian “Beta Yisrael” (House of Israel) Jewish tribe, whose members have been immigrating to Israel since 1977, but what seemingly seems to be a homogeneous community, is in fact quite heterogenic culturally, when it comes to developing proper prevention and treatment programs. This heterogeneity finds its expression in varying alcohol intake patterns and epidemiology. Thus, cultural beliefs and behaviors relating to alcohol abuse and abstinence that are relevant to effective culture sensitive interventions are presented too. But how can one plan effective preventive and treatment interventions to suit this heterogeneity? The Integrative Culture Sensitive Assessment and Treatment Model presented, delineates the major stages and the basic steps one must take to implement a culture sensitive preventive or treatment intervention, be it in an individual medical setting or a group or community based public health intervention. Finally, some insights as to culture sensitive interventions in treating alcohol related disorders are presented. “Wine is not for kings… not for kings to drink, nor any strong drink for princes, lest they drink and forget what has been ordained and infringe on the rights of the poor. Give strong drink to the hapless and wine to the embittered. Let them drink and forget their poverty and put their troubles out of mind.” (Proverbs 31, 4-7). “Even if your illness [alcoholism] doesn’t kill you, it’ll still destroy your home.” (Ethiopian proverb).

Keywords: Alcohol-related disorders; Addiction; Cultural sensitivity; Israel; Arabs; Ethiopian Jews; Cultural assessment

Copyright: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.