African American Women and HIV/AIDS: Critical Responses

By Dorie J. Gilbert; Ednita M. Wright | Go to book overview

3
Substance Abuse and African Americans: The Need
for Africentric-Based Substance Abuse
Treatment Models

Cheryl Tawede Grills

Ethnic patterns in utilization of drug abuse treatment have not been studied systematically. The limited research to date suggests that African American drug users may be less likely than White users to receive treatment for illegal drug use (Jones, Lewis, and Shorty 1993; Little 1981; Longshore, Hsieh, Anglin, and Annon 1992; Rounsaville and Kleber 1985) and less likely than either White or Hispanic users to believe they would benefit from it (Longshore, Hsieh, and Anglin 1993). There are at least three explanations for these possible differences. First, few treatment programs specifically address social, cultural, and individual factors associated with drug use by African Americans (Rowe and Grills 1993). Second, many African Americans view mainstream social service programs, including drug abuse treatment, as intrusive, punitive, and untrustworthy (Aponte and Barnes 1995; Finn 1994; Pakov, McGovern, and Geffner 1993; Taha-Cisse 1991). Finally, the expected benefit of treatment may be a particularly important determinant of treatment motivation among African Americans (Longshore, Grills, Anglin, and Annon 1998) that can mitigate against seeking treatment.

In recent years, researchers and community advocates have cited a need for drug use interventions that build on cultural resources in the African American community. Interventions of this sort are said to be [culturally congruent] (Singer 1991). The expectation is that treatment can be more effective if provided in a manner congruent with the health beliefs, worldviews, values, and culture of the individuals, families, and communities they serve. In other words, treatment would be African-centered. Problem definition, conceptualization of the client, appreciation of the client's ecological reality, and history are understood from an African cultural reality and worldview. Congruence with African

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