5 Ways to Improve Latino Addiction Treatment

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Hispanic and Latinx people comprise a diverse set of cultures, languages, and values—that to describe them in one word would be impossible. So would the idea of applying the same methods of addiction treatment.

While the principles of traditional drug treatment are beneficial to everyone who is struggling with alcoholism and/or substance abuse, there are five factors that could greatly improve Latino addiction treatment and begin their recovery on the right foot.

1. Allow the family to get involved in treatment.

La familia es vida. / Family is life.

Latino culture holds great value in family relations, which can cause initial hesitation for certain Latinx clients who do not want to be separated from their families with minimal communication for 30 days or more. Incorporating family therapy in Latino addiction treatment, however, will allow the client to have their family play an active role in their recovery process and will open a healthy dialogue for all parties to understand how addiction has affected each of their lives.

The Palm Beach Institute understands this treatment method, which is why we include families in the client’s treatment plan and encourage families to attend therapy sessions with their loved one. This can be good for parents who have had limited resources to help their child, siblings who feel guilt or betrayal, and other family members who feel helpless in speaking with the addicted person.

2. Focus on overcoming Latin pride to begin recovery.

¡Terca como una mula! / Stubborn like a mule!

Negative cultural views of addiction and drug treatment in Hispanic and Latino circles make it less likely for Latinx people to admit any struggles they may be having with alcohol or drugs, let alone admit they need to go to a treatment facility. This could be a matter of dignity or lack of information, perhaps both.

Some Latinx individuals believe they can overcome addiction on their own through utilizing holistic medicines, focusing on faith, and applying discipline. Yet, without proper medical treatment for certain drug addictions (e.g. alcohol, heroin, opioids) or cognitive-behavioral therapy, these people can go through painful withdrawals and miss out on lessons that will help them maintain sobriety. Access to more information on rehab treatment can help ease the stigma of addiction in Hispanic and Latino culture.

3. Latino addiction treatment may require bilingual services.

¿Hablas español o Spanglish? / Do you speak Spanish or Spanglish?

English can be a language barrier for some Latinx clients who only speak Spanish or Portuguese at a fluent level. Though Hispanic and Latino people make up the largest ethnic minority group in the United States (more than 52 million, 16 percent of the US population, according to the 2011 US Census), bilingual services that offer Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking assistance is still a rare occurrence in most businesses, including drug treatment programs.

Latino addiction treatment that provides at least one staff member and medical professional to clients who prefer to speak in their native tongue can improve the quality and availability of treatment. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released their most recent report on the availability of Spanish services in treatment facilities in 2012: of the 13,200 US facilities that reported to the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS), only 3,350 offered Spanish services to clients. Factor in that 14 percent of all substance abuse treatment admissions composed of 250,184 Hispanic and Latino people in that same study (and continues to grow), the supply does not meet the demand.

4. Discuss payment plans and health care options to finance drug rehab.

No seguro, ni medicina. / No insurance, no medicine.

The Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network reported in The ATTC Messenger that “one of every three Hispanics/Latinos (16 million) lacks health insurance, as compared to 11 percent of white, non-Hispanics and 20 percent of Afro-Americans.” With the incorporation of the Affordable Care Act, health care reform was estimated to help about six million Hispanic and Latino people, but a lack of health insurance remains an issue.

Undocumented immigrants may be too scared to apply for health care benefits while other Latinx permanent residents and/or US citizens may lack the means to do so, whether because of low wages, no benefits programs offered through their workplace, or language barriers. At the Palm Beach Institute, we care about our clients getting the treatment they need. Our 24-hour helpline at (855) 534-3574 has our call agents waiting on the line to speak with anyone who would like to learn about different payment plans and healthcare options that can help them afford drug treatment and start their recovery right away.

5. Address spiritual conflicts in those who feel betrayed by their faith.

Dios no me ayuda. / God doesn’t help me.

Roman Catholicism dominated Latin America, becoming the main religion for Hispanic and Latino populations. So for Latinx folks who’ve had a “fall from grace,” entering the world of addiction, the idea of being in touch with faith again is a touchy subject. With the cultural sanctity that is associated with Roman Catholicism, some Latinx people may feel deeply ashamed for their past actions or feel betrayed by God, having felt helpless and jaded for so long.

While faith continues to be an individual, spiritual journey for most, therapy sessions in Latino addiction treatment that want to address religious conflicts among clients should ask how spirituality has played out in their lives, and whether they should continue religious practices they were raised with or explore new sects of religions.

Need help? Come to the Palm Beach Institute

At the Palm Beach Institute, you’re more than just a client. You’re family. We take the time to address every person’s addiction and needs so that when they leave, they can feel ready to tackle sobriety in life after treatment. If you or a loved one are looking for change, but still have questions about drug treatment, feel free to call our 24-hour helpline at (844) 318-0071, and one of our call agents will assist you. Start recovery today.

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