In the social and behavioral sciences there is a strong correlation alleged between alcohol abuse and ethnonational origins. Changes in drinking patterns and problem drinking among immigrants to the United States are often mistakenly attributed to acculturation, just as the etiology of alcohol abuse and alcoholism is often erroneously traced to the 'ethnic origins' of these men and women. In addition, and for the same reasons, researchers and practitioners may have thus unwittingly influenced the perceptions and understandings of this population with respect to the relationship between particular ethnic groups and alcohol consumption. This paper summarizes how the term acculturation has been employed recently in alcohol studies. Preliminary findings are reported from ethnographic fieldwork with Latin America-born men in the San Francisco Bay Area.