OBJECTIVE: Alcoholism is a problem of worldwide concern. Full
appreciation of this international problem requires that adequate
diagnostic measures be constructed and that comparable measures for
different cultures be available so that valid differences in prevalence
across cultures can be detected. A Spanish-language version of the
Diagnostic Interview Schedule (DIS) has been used for epidemiologic studies
of alcohol abuse and dependence in Los Angeles Mexican- Americans and
mainland Puerto Ricans, and the authors used the same instrument to conduct
a similar study in Peru. METHOD: A population sample (N = 815) from the
Independencia district of Lima, Peru, was chosen for interviews with a
revised form of the Spanish translation of the DIS. Lifetime prevalence
rates of alcoholism and other DSM-III diagnoses were determined. RESULTS:
The prevalence of alcohol abuse or dependence was higher among the men
(34.80%) than among the women (2.46%), but the onset for women was earlier.
Alcoholism was strongly associated with antisocial personality disorder and
with drug abuse or dependence. CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of alcoholism
for the Peruvian men is higher than prevalences for men in U.S. studies,
but the prevalence among the Peruvian women is one of the lowest reported.
The high prevalence among men is likely due to cultural mores but may also
be linked to the stresses found in impoverished societies undergoing rapid
social, cultural, and economic change.