Addiction in the AANHPI Community: Risk Factors, Statistics, and How to Get Help for Yourself or Your Loved One
As we observe Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month and celebrate the invaluable contributions to national and global culture made by these communities, Recovery Unplugged wants to highlight the unique substance use and mental health issues that interfere with their health and quality of life.
Understanding the issues that lead to and drive mental health issues and addiction in AANHPI communities can empower members to advocate for themselves while providing allies with the education and resources to offer proper support during vulnerable times.
How Common Is Mental Illness and Addiction in AANHPI Communities?
If you or someone you care about are members of the AANHPI community and are struggling with addiction or mental illness, you’re far from alone. While substance use is comparatively low among these groups, data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicates that:
- Over 2.7 million AANHPI adults battle mental illness and/or substance use disorder
- Nearly five percent (around 745,000) struggle with SUD.
- Approximately 14.5 percent (over 2.3 million people) experience mental illness.
- Over two percent (approximately 325,000) had BOTH a SUD and a mental illness.
Opioids, meth, and illegal prescriptions are among the top substance use issues driving addiction in the AANHPI communities. Cocaine use among this population has significantly increased in ages 18-25 since 2017. Historically, access to treatment has been difficult for many populations within this group due to socioeconomic and cultural factors. In recent years, however, more AANHPI individuals have been getting the pharmacological (MAT) and behavioral therapy they need for their mental illness and substance use.
The State of AANHPI Mental Health
Depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts continue to impact the AANHPI community at higher and higher rates. Since 2009, the number of adults ages 26-49 who made a suicide plan has significantly increased. Suicidality is largely affected by substance use, making quality addiction care even more urgent. There are many factors that lead to mental illness in the AANHPI community, including but not limited to:
- Bigotry and Social Stereotypes
- Generational Trauma
- Disparities in Treatment and Prevention Resources
- Intolerance and Expectations
These issues are not isolated to one-on-one interactions; they’re ingrained into the institutional and collective consciousness and find their way into official policy. Language barriers, lack of awareness, and inadequate insurance resources compound these issues and make it hard for people to get help.
Mental Health and Addiction Treatment for AANHPI Communities
The cultures that comprise the AANHPI communities face their own unique challenges separate and apart from one another, in addition to the marginalization they face collectively. It’s important that addiction and mental health treatment address these issues in a competent, sincere, and intuitive way. Traditional approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical-behavioral therapy, family of origin therapy, and others, can be tailored to deal with the unique cultural issues of expectation, stigma, and prejudice.
Recovery Unplugged wants all members of the AANHPI communities to know that they are heard, they are seen, and they don’t have to fight addiction alone anymore. If you or someone you care about needs help, contact us today to start treatment. We are in-network with most major insurance companies, offer all levels of care, including virtual treatment, and have locations across the country to make your care more accessible.