• Addiction & recovery

Three Things You Need to Know About Addiction in the BIPOC Community

Nzinga Harrison

March 9, 2021


For Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), barriers to accessing quality treatment continue to exist for most aspects of health care, including addiction treatment and recovery services. Here are three things you need to know about how addiction uniquely impacts members of BIPOC communities in the United States.

1.BIPOC are less likely to receive mental health care.

Even though most racial or ethnic minority groups experience similar mental health conditions to white people, people from non-white communities are far less likely to receive care for the treatment of mental health conditions. Compared to 48% of white people who received mental health services, research from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicates that:

  • 31% of Black and Hispanic people received mental health services

  • 22% of Asian people received mental health services

2. Lack of cultural understanding by health care providers may contribute to under diagnosis and/or misdiagnosis.

Health care that is culturally aware helps to build respect, understanding, and trust. However, even as the population of the United States grows more and more diverse, a lack of cultural competency persists within health care, which contributes to issues with diagnosis and negative health outcomes for people from racially or ethnically diverse populations. According to the American Psychiatric Association, several factors contribute to BIPOC receiving lower-quality health care, including:

  • Language differences between the patient and provider

  • The stigma of mental illness among minority groups

  • Cultural differences in how symptoms are presented

  • Lack of culturally competent health care providers

3. People from racially or ethnically diverse backgrounds benefit from culturally appropriate services and treatments.

The disease of addiction does not discriminate and can affect anyone from any background. It impacts everyone differently, which is why a “one-size-fits-all” treatment approach that has historically centered on white people’s experiences with addiction and substance use disorders, may not be helpful or appropriate for Black, Indigenous, People of Color. No matter a person’s race, ethnicity, or their unique health needs and life situations, their treatment plan should be tailored to respect, understand, and appreciate their culture and values. Research shows that culturally competent treatment programs help people from diverse backgrounds to:

  • Participate and engage in the treatment program

  • Stay in the treatment program longer

  • Improve the outcomes of their treatment

If you are seeking help with your loved one’s addiction, contact us today or complete our quick contact form below, to speak with an addiction treatment specialist.

If you need help with your substance use disorder, we are here to help you build your confidence and momentum towards the future you want. We provide treatment services for adults with alcohol, opioid, and other substance use disorders. We are currently located in Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, and Washington.

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Our mission at Eleanor Health is to help people affected by addiction live amazing lives. We deliver whole-person, comprehensive care and are passionate about transforming the quality, delivery, and accessibility of addiction & mental health treatment. Our actions are rooted in respect for each member's values, culture, and life experiences, and our commitment to their wellbeing is unwavering and without judgement.

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