Addiction can affect anyone at any time, regardless of skin color. While substance use disorders affect a diversity of people, that doesn’t mean we can dismiss race and ethnicity and claim that they aren’t factors in addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders.
In this article we’ll look at how minorities are affected by drug and alcohol use and mental health issues, shared underlying risk factors and what we can do about it.
Rates of drug use among racial and ethnic groups also tend to differ by age and type of drug. The same study from SAMHSA reports that alcohol and fentanyl use was highest among white people. Prescription pain relievers, methamphetamines and marijuana use were all higher among minority communities than whites.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Research Report Series on Comorbidity, mental illness is a common co-occurring disorder with substance abuse. This is due to the fact that the brain structures that are disrupted and changed during the process of addiction are also involved in our mental wellbeing.
Some of the regions of the brain that are affected by the chemicals in drugs are the same brain areas that are associated with depression, other mood disorders, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia and so on. While addiction doesn’t guarantee an impending mental health disorder, the relationship between the two is clear.
The American Psychiatric Association lists some of the common risk factors that are more prevalent among minority populations and may contribute to the onset of a mental health disorder.
Inaccessibility of high quality care
Cultural stigma regarding the treatment of mental health disorders
Discrimination within the healthcare system
Lack of awareness regarding mental wellness
Various other factors come into play, such as socio-economic status, language barriers and location of healthcare providers. Treating racial and ethnic minorities requires that all these barriers are addressed.
Treatment for minorities
The first step in improving treatment for minority communities is acknowledging the barriers that already exist. Increased risk factors, low treatment entry, biased treatment programs, poorer health outcomes and high poverty levels all contribute to continued addictions.
Improved research protocols (recruiting minority participants and adequate measures)
Increased volume of research regarding issues unique to or disproportionately present in minority groups
Increased representation of minority professionals conducting research
Minority presence in leadership and on decision making teams
Improved training on racial and ethnic minority issues
All these practices aim at understanding disparities between minority and non-minority treatment in order to increase access to care and treatment effectiveness. After all, everyone deserves to experience full recovery from addiction and mental health disorders, no matter where he or she comes from.
Taking advantage of culturally sensitive treatment
You deserve personalized, professional and sensitive care. Find what you’re looking for with Pyramid Healthcare. Pyramid Healthcare employs evidence-based research to ensure that your care is effective at bringing you closer to recovery. Call today to schedule an appointment.