How to Find Culturally Relevant Addiction Help
The United States continues to be the melting pot of the world with hundreds of different nationalities finding their home in this country. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2000 that minority groups make up a third of the U.S. population and are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. According to the National Institutes of Health, by the year 2030, racial or ethnic minorities are expected to make up one-half of the student population (K-12th grade). At that same time the Caucasian population is expected to decrease from 68 percent in 2010 to 53 percent in 2050.
However, drug addiction can happen to anyone no matter race, gender, socio-economic structure, religious beliefs, or education level. In 2011 the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that every ethnic group indicated drug addiction in some segment of its population.
Rates of drug addiction by ethnicity include the following:
- African-Americans (Blacks) – 10%
- American Indians or Alaska Natives – 13.4%
- Asians – 3.8%
- Caucasians (Whites) – 8.7%
- Hispanics – 8.4%
- Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders – 11%
- Persons of two or more races – 13.5%
Unfortunately for people across every ethnic group, treatment is rare. According to an article in Psychiatric Services, only about ten percent of people of any ethnic group receive the help they need for their addiction.
Culture and Drug Addiction
The elements that make up your cultural background and personal history may influence your attitude toward drugs as well as your choice to use drugs or not. Your culture or your pattern of beliefs and behavior that shape your worldview and outlook on society serve as a guide for your behavior according to a 2008 article in Psychiatric Times. That article also indicated that these cultural groups have used and abused drugs throughout history and have entrenched codes of conduct regarding drug use. In fact the use of particular drugs is considered acceptable and even promoted in some ethnic groups. The culture in which one was raised also plays an important role in addiction recovery, which underscores the importance of finding culturally relevant addiction help. When addiction recovery does not take into account one’s cultural heritage, problems with treatment emerge.
According to a 2008 article in the Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, common problems include the following:
- Language differences
- Lack of trust in programs
- Uninviting environment
- Limited use of cultural resources in the community
- Failure to link with cultural resources
Fortunately it is possible to undergo treatment in a culturally relevant facility so that an individual can focus on recovery without any barriers.
What to Look for in Culturally Relevant Addiction Help
The first and most important step in finding culturally relevant help for addiction recovery is simply a matter of knowing what to look for in a treatment center or program. You want to look for a treatment facility that values diversity and understands and incorporates cultural knowledge.
An article in the Psychiatric Times noted what to look for in a culturally relevant program including the following:
- Use of cultural references
- Utilizing elements of culture or origin
- Speaking the native language of your culture
- Inclusion of tribal or cultural customs
- Degree of family involvement in culture
- Religious dynamics within your culture
Understanding the difference across different cultures is critical for effective substance abuse treatment. The entire spectrum of treatment needs to consider an individual’s cultural background. Every individual is unique, so a wide variety of care should be available to you.
Where to Look for Culturally Relevant Treatment
When a person finally admits that he or she needs help to overcome an addiction to drugs (like painkillers), finding culturally relevant treatment help can seem like an overwhelming task. However, there are several places you can inquire to discover the best treatment facilities for your unique cultural background. Places to look to find culturally relevant addiction help include the following:
- Internet – A search on the Web should return positive results for finding a treatment program that caters to your cultural identity.
- Clergy – Most clergy are aware of treatment facilities in the area that align with a religion’s particular beliefs.
- Tribal representatives – These leaders often know about the problems of addiction among their people and know where to direct them for help.
- Physicians – Your physician, particularly if he or she shares your ethnic background or religious beliefs, should be aware of treatment facilities and programs that would take into account your cultural background.
- Family – Because your family shares your cultural heritage, they might be aware of centers and programs that understand how your culture influences your behavior. Even distant relatives or friends of relatives may be a good source of information.
- Psychiatrists/therapists – If the area in which you live is large enough, there will be professional therapists who have similar backgrounds as yourself. They will know of treatment centers that will identify with your culture.
The key to finding help is being willing to ask and not allowing embarrassment to keep you from getting the help you need.
Getting Help for Your Addiction
If you are struggling with addiction to drugs, we can help. You can call our toll-free helpline any time, 24 hours a day. You can talk with one of our staff members who can help you determine where to find the best help for your cultural background. Don’t allow your culture to keep you in the prison of addiction. Call us today, and start on the road to recovery.