Thumbnail photo of Diversity In Rehab: Advances For InclusionThe road to sobriety from addiction has made strides in engaging different types of people. Typically, individuals treated for substance abuse are white and middle to upper class, and patients of other races have been around. In response to a greater openness to future patients of different races and spiritual backgrounds, rehab facilities have expanded their treatments to appeal to a wider range of patients in facilities. Out of this desire to encourage all types of people to seek treatment for substance abuse and alcoholism, facilities have evolved that include:

  • Faith Based Programs
  • Gender specific treatment
  • LGBTQ + treatments
  • Age-specific treatment

The variety of treatments available includes a focus on each patient’s needs, with topics in support groups to personalize and enhance the recovery experience. In addition to increasing acceptance of various focus groups, there are various treatments such as spiritual and adventure therapies to suit the diversity of patients and the preferences of each patient. This allows more patients to feel encouraged and valued during their recovery.

Prescribing as a factor in the lack of variety in drug treatment

National data suggests that black and Latin American / Hispanic people were 3.1% to 8.1% less likely than whites to stop treatment. Native American Indians were 4.7% less likely to complete treatment for alcohol use disorders. Traditionally, in the history of addiction healing, there have been white patients, namely those who have insurance and financial support to attend facilities. And because the opioid crisis affects more whites than blacks, the diversity in the numbers of people receiving treatment may be skewed.

Part of this is due to the lack of necessary medical care for black patients. To illustrate racial prejudice, racial assumptions and gaps in the qualitative treatment of black patients play a role in medical distribution. Doctors believe that black patients were physically stronger than white patients; did not have access to health insurance due to suspected lower socio-economic status; or sell drugs, again because of the discriminatory attitudes of black patients seeking treatment. As a result, black patients who need prescription opioids are not getting the medical care they need for treatment. In recent years, “85% of people who died from opioid abuse were white”. Much of this is due to prioritizing the lives of white patients who become addicted to opioids such as heroin after taking prescription opioids.

According to SAMSHA, “29% of non-Hispanic blacks were less likely to have been prescribed opioids for pain.” In addition, black patients report more pain than white patients. The lack of care may contribute to a lower number of black patients in institutions as the number of opioid addicts is lower compared to white communities.

Socio-religious factors and distrust

Mistrust of doctors or a lack of access to insurance can lead to treatment barriers. Believing that the system does not favor them, and knowing that healthcare professionals are discriminated against, can be another factor that makes you hesitant about going into rehab. Black and Latin American / Hispanic communities often experience discrimination and lack of representation, and fears that arise in rehab can lead to hesitation about recovery.

Black communities’ trust in taking risks and not receiving skilled care can replace belief in the need for medication in a facility. Relying on their communities or using spiritual healing remedies like prayer, meditation, herbs, and others may be preferred methods that appear to heal rather than traditional treatments in rehab. A final factor in the lack of diversity in “minority” groups is cultural and social attitudes that influence drug use. This can look like a belief that drug or alcohol abuse is the end result of a lack of strength or a lack of belief. Attending church or participating in spiritual rituals to reduce addiction to drugs may be a wise solution.

Hope for the future for rehab diversity

There are several steps aimed at improving diversity in rehab. First, the inclusion of a wide variety of 12-step groups and staff of all races can promote diversity. Black or Latinx patients would be more comfortable receiving treatment or medication based on the race of the staff. This means they will feel more confident when they see a doctor of the same ethnicity or race giving treatment. By making information public about discrimination against medical professionals, this can create an awareness that leads to a change in prescribing practice.

If you or a loved one needs treatment, don’t let fear hold you back. Contact a treatment provider risk-free today.

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