Sunday, June 19, 2016

Study points to how low-income, resource-poor communities can reduce substance abuse

Public Release: 21-Apr-2016
Study points to how low-income, resource-poor communities can reduce substance abuse
UC Riverside-led research focused on African Americans in the Arkansas Mississippi Delta
University of California - Riverside

Cocaine use has increased substantially among African Americans in some of the most underserved areas of the United States. Interventions designed to increase connection to and support from non-drug using family and friends, with access to employment, the faith community, and education, are the best ways to reduce substance use among African Americans and other minorities in low-income, resource-poor communities, concludes a study led by a medical anthropologist at the University of California, Riverside.


"African Americans within such contexts often face multiple obstacles to accessing formal drug treatment services, including access to care and lack of culturally appropriate treatment programs," said lead researcher Ann Cheney, an assistant professor in the department of social medicine and population health in the Center for Healthy Communities in the UC Riverside School of Medicine. "Despite these obstacles, many initiate and maintain recovery without accessing formal treatment. They do so by leveraging resources or what we refer to as 'recovery capital' - employment, education, faith community - by strategically connecting to and obtaining support from non-drug using family and friends."


"Recovery without treatment, also called natural recovery, is common and perhaps even more prevalent among ethnic and racial minorities than among Whites," Cheney explained. "Cocaine use varies along racial lines and social class and is increasingly a problem among African Americans in rural Arkansas."


Cheney and her colleagues found that nearly three-quarters of the participants (72 percent) reported at least one attempt in their lifetimes to reduce or quit cocaine use, motivated by:

Social role expectations (desires to be better parents or caregivers and responsible persons, prevent harming their children, become more present in their children's lives, prevent hurting loved ones).
Fatigue (participants were tired of the drug lifestyle and its effects on their physical and mental health).
Criminal justice involvement (incarceration forced participants to quit cocaine use).
Access to recovery capital (most participants accessed substance use treatment programs or self-help groups at some point in their lives).
Abstinence-supporting networks (these helped participants reduce cocaine use and/or achieve temporary recovery outside of rehab).
Pro-social lives and activities (participation in church, leisure-time activities were critical to reducing cocaine use).
Religion and spirituality (faith in the divine helped participants reduce or quit cocaine use).


According to Cheney, ideally, the best approach would be for interventions to increase users' access to resources that would allow them to live more conventional lifestyles (e.g., employment, stable housing) and meaningful lives (e.g., non-drug using friends, faith or supportive communities).

"This approach is ideal in resource-poor communities - as long as interventions are tailored to local contexts and cultures," she said.


tags: drug use, drug abuse

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