July marks National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, an event established by the United States Department of Health and Human Services to examine the impact, causes and sustaining factors of mental health issues affecting racial and ethnic minorities in the United States. The initiative also explores the unique barriers these groups face when they endeavor to access care.
This month, which also happens to occur in the midst of one of the most significant and impactful civil rights movements in recent American History, Recovery Unplugged will be taking a look at how the cycle of addiction, from causes to consequences, disproportionately impacts minority communities in the United States, and taking a look at how we can begin to systemically rectify the problem.
By the Numbers: A Snapshot of How Addiction Affects Minorities in America
Across the board, racial and ethnic minority communities in the United States face unique challenges regarding addiction and treatment access:
- SAMHSA’s 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) estimates that 1.1 million Hispanic/Latino youth used illicit drugs in the past year, including 208,000 who misused opioids in the past year, and that 92 percent of Hispanic/Latino youth with a substance use disorder did not receive treatment in a specialty facility.
- Despite relatively uniform rates of substance abuse among racial and ethnic populations, there is a disproportionate rate of drug arrests among the Black Community. Although these gaps have narrowed, they still represent a significant threat to the mental health and quality of life of this population.
- Data from the University of Pennsylvania indicates that members of the Black and Hispanic communities are less likely than White patients to complete addiction treatment, due largely to socioeconomic factors.
- The American Psychological Association reports that, although efforts have been made to improve access to addiction treatment among minority communities as a whole, comparatively little has been done to specifically help Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.
In addition to ethnic and racial minority groups, Americans who identify in the sexual minority are also at an increased risk of substance use disorder and face their own unique barriers to treatment and potentially lifesaving care.
We Can and Must Do Better
Recovery Unplugged remains committed to helping all who struggle with alcohol or drug addiction find the care they need to regain their health, dignity and quality of life. This month, we are dedicated to examining these complex issues while assuring affected members of these communities that there’s a path forward to recovery. If you or someone you care about is a member of a minority group in the United States and is struggling with addiction, Recovery Unplugged is ready to do everything we can to help you heal.