Culturally Competent Treatment for Minorities
The road to recovery is a long complex process; addiction treatment, mental and physical health programs are proven to be most effective when they are tailored to fit the needs of each individual. Physiology, type or combination of substances used, duration of addiction, withdrawal symptoms, co-occurring physical or mental disorders, lifestyle preferences, and even culture are all important factors to determine the best course of action.
It’s important to review the depth of your needs and addiction as well as consider the range of treatment options to ensure the process of recovery is as comfortable and effective as possible.
Some centers and programs cater to the unique needs of specific demographics, circumstances, or conditions while others offer quality care for general recovery needs. Some utilize spiritual or religious methods, while others will use non-religious, scientific and evidence-based methods.
Need for specialized, culturally-appropriate treatment
Despite the existence of effective treatments, minorities lack access to culturally appropriate, quality addiction or mental illness treatment programs more so than other demographics and are less likely to seek or receive the care they need.
Approximately 33 percent of the U.S. population now belongs to a cultural, racial, or religious minority group and more than 11 percent of Americans are now foreign born.
Culturally dependent characteristics as well as the stress of immigration add additional barriers. External factors such as discrimination and racism, in addition to internal factors such as mistrust of healthcare and extreme sense of stigma, are often cause for the initiation, maintenance or escalation of substance use and co-occurring mental illness. The strict interpretation of Islam in the Muslim community, for example, has limited their understanding of healthcare. LGBTQ individuals come from all racial groups, cultural and ethnic backgrounds; the LGBT community commonly faces additional discrimination from within and outside of their groups, causing a higher proportion of problems and less of an inclination to access treatment or support.
Stigma and mistrust discourage majority and minority groups alike from seeking help for fear of stereotyping, bias, or being judged, shamed or perceived as less worthy. Many people with substance use disorders even believe they are sinners because their religions strictly prohibit the use of drugs and alcohol.
De-stigmatizing health in religious communities and the general population is essential. A report by the Surgeon General suggests that culturally oriented education and treatment are more effective than traditional methods to prevent substance use, reduce dropout rates, improve utilization and outcomes for ethnic minority mental health or addiction treatment patients.
It’s vital to improve the availability of affordable, quality, culturally, linguistically, and geographically accessible mental health services for minority communities.
Most people who seek addiction treatment either utilize an inpatient or outpatient program that begins with a medication-assisted detox. Intensive outpatient treatment (IOT) programs are equipped to treat and care for individuals from a variety of backgrounds, however, IOTs are increasingly used to treat minorities with substance use disorders.
If spirituality or religious faith is central to you or your loved ones, it’s recommended to seek help, guidance, and support from religious leaders as well as from fellow believers. Additionally, providers need to understand and accommodate the religious customs of individual clients, including dietary preferences, special holidays, and daily prayers.
Religion and spirituality offer an incredible coping mechanism and tightknit community for people. Culturally appropriate education and care must demonstrate that religious values are not harmed by seeking help or helping loved ones with substance abuse or mental health concerns. Healthy emotional, social, and spiritual well-being are an essential part of the religion that can be used parallel to traditional healthcare.
A vital part of culturally competent care is bridging the gap between traditional and conventional care and services. Programs have been implemented to educate general and minority communities on substance use, addiction and mental health in a culturally relevant manner in hopes to raise awareness to promote prevention.
Other programs host weekly or monthly meetups for different age groups and minorities to speak to others about a variety of everyday challenges and topics, some of which they may not be realistically able to speak about in more formal religious institutions or spaces.
Imams, sheiks, rabbis and other religious community leaders are increasingly becoming educated in the basics of substance use, addiction, physical and mental health in addition to what services are available. In turn, religious leaders educate practitioners and treatment providers about traditions and customs.
Long-term sobriety and optimal health are achievable for anyone. If you or someone you know needs help finding culturally appropriate care, please call: (877) 262-6566