The African-American community has a statistically higher percentage of substance abuse than the general population. The following are some of the reasons for the high rate of addiction in African Americans:
- The inferiority complex resulting from the poverty of the urban areas that many African Americans inhabit
- The high concentration of drug and alcohol sales in African-American residential areas
- The apathy toward education that keeps many African Americans trapped in illiteracy and poverty
- The lingering Jim Crow prejudices that prevent African Americans from obtaining jobs that pay them as well as white Americans
- The drug use of African-American role models who seem unafraid of white rules or oppression and use violence to maintain a fearful respect in others
- The cultural expectation of white Americans that African Americans will drink heavily, abuse drugs, drain resources and hamper society
- The despair of being part of an oppressed and marginalized social group whose human rights seem to have reached a standstill
As long as the African American community is left in the rut, the issue of drug dependence among them will never improve.
Differences between White and African American Drug Addicts
Addiction recovery specialists cannot afford to use a generalized approach for all of their patients, as African Americans face many challenges foreign to white addicts.
Members of the white community usually begin their addictions because of the following reasons, among others:
- The stress resulting from pressure to excel
- The desire to escape a painful life
- The fun their friends claim that drugs bring
African Americans often have different relations with the drug world, including the following situations:
- Living dominated by drug lords who control their families through debt
- Needing to sell drugs to supplement their family’s inadequate income
- Emulating their African-American role models, who are feared fighters and abuse drugs regularly
- Seeing drugs regularly abused and easily obtained in their communities
Those working with African Americans in addiction recovery must know about the African-American experience in order to administer effective healing therapy.
Ways to Approach Addiction in African Americans
Therapists specializing in African American recovery treatment may utilize the following strategies:
- Presenting recovery as a way to redeem the ancestral slavery by breaking out of addiction
- Asking the patient what particular strengths he possesses and explaining how sobriety can help him regain these
- Referencing recovered African-American addicts
With help any African American drug addict can recover.
Finding Help for African American Drug Addicts
Please call our toll-free helpline, 844-496-9429, today if you are looking for addiction recovery treatment specific to the needs of an African American drug user. We are available 24 hours a day to listen to your concerns and point you toward help, so call us today.
David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.
Reviewed by: Kim Chin and Marian Newton