Information on Spanish-Speaking Substance Abuse Treatment

Created On Thursday, 04, February 2016
Modified On Friday, 17, September 2021

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Spanish speaking substance abuse treatment provides all services in Spanish. The rehabilitation process is the same, and programs operate as outpatient or inpatient treatment services. Many people have been in situations where a language barrier has made things difficult. For those who speak Spanish either solely or as their primary language, attending a treatment center that does not provide treatment in Spanish makes the rehabilitation process difficult. Most addiction treatment requires an exchange of dialogue between patients and therapists or between patients and other patients.

When one person speaks Spanish and the other person does not, it makes the treatment process difficult. The individual attending the program is virtually unable to benefit from anything the program has to offer. One of the greatest benefits of a Spanish drug rehab program is the absence of the language barrier for Spanish speaking individuals. When everything is offered in Spanish, the addict benefits from the rehabilitation center's therapies and treatments. Moreover, programs that provide services in Spanish account for the cultural and social differences between the Hispanic and Latino population and non-Spanish speaking Americans.

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There are many different types of Spanish speaking drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers. Like any other type of treatment program, no one rehabilitation facility is right for every person. There are inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation centers and detox programs providing services in Spanish. According to the Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse, the prevalence of substance abuse among Latinos generally mirror those of the general U.S. population. However, per the study, Latinos have poorer outcomes in substance abuse treatment programs.

However, language plays a significant role; the study says—"The strongest support for a relationship between assimilation to U.S. culture and substance use comes from studies that consistently find a positive relationship between English language preference and proficiency and higher rates of alcohol and other drug use, abuse, and dependence among Latinas/os" (Language). Overall, substance abuse treatment programs providing services in Spanish are of significant importance for one of the largest demographics of Americans.

The U.S. Hispanic and Latino Populations

According to the Pew Research Center, the U.S. Hispanic population surpassed 60 million in 2019, which was up from 50.7 million in 2010. The Latino share of the U.S. population increased from 16% to 18%, and Latinos accounted for about half of all U.S. population growth over this period. From 2015 to 2019, the Hispanic population grew by an average of 1.9% per year. The Latino population grew faster in the southern regions of the United States than any other.

The fastest-growing Hispanic population states were North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia. Los Angeles County had more Hispanics than any other U.S. County with 4.9 million in 2019. Latinos are also among the youngest racial or ethnic group in the U.S. but saw one of the largest increases in mediate age over the past decade. Moreover, the population of Puerto Rico stabilized in 2019 after several years of decline.

Substance abuse addiction impact the Hispanic and Latino population. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, two in five Hispanics struggled with illicit drugs, and seven in nine struggled with alcohol use, while one in six struggled with illicit drugs and alcohol. Approximately 7.6% of the Hispanic Latino population aged 18 or older had a substance use disorder. Alcohol was the most widely used drug among those aged 12 to 17, followed by 18 to 25 year old's. Approximately 9.4% of the Hispanic population aged 18 to 25 had an alcohol addiction.

When is Spanish-Speaking Drug and Alcohol Rehab the Best Option?

Drug and alcohol rehabilitation is the best option for anyone who is in the early or late stages of addiction and everything in between. Not every addict is willing to get help, and most families must organize a family intervention. When the family begins to notice the signs of addiction, it is time to intervene, and early intervention is essential. Family and friends should not wait to intervene and should not wait for their loved ones to hit rock bottom as there is no rock bottom. The problem may begin with recreational drug use and slowly progress to daily drug use and addiction.

Family and friends may begin to notice drug-seeking behavior and discover their loved one is hiding their problem. Family intervention is important because it will help the addict understand the importance of treatment. Substance abuse treatment centers that offer services in Spanish are the best option. A Spanish program removes the language barrier, ensuring the patient receives the best possible rehabilitation.

According to an article published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, treatment outcomes are different among the many Hispanic subgroups in America. According to the article, Hispanic subgroups differ in their rate of substances used in the general population and among those seeking help. Puerto Ricans and other Hispanics had higher rates of illicit drug use, while South Americans had the lowest. Marijuana use was higher among Puerto Ricans and lowest among Cubans and South Americans. The rates of heavy alcohol use were highest among Mexicans and lowest among Cubans.

The study notes there are several factors that contribute to the patterns of substance abuse. It points out that immigrant populations' substance abuse patterns tend to be similar to those of their country of origin. The substance use patterns of Hispanics who are more integrated into the U.S culture tend to be more consistent with native-born Americans' overall use patterns. Hispanic subgroups reported different primary substances used. For example, Mexican Americans were mostly alcohol users, while other Hispanic Americans were alcohol and cocaine users. Cuban Americans and Puerto Ricans reported more varied primary substances used.

Overall, Cuban Americans who had more of a connection to the Hispanic culture had lower treatment retention. Hispanic subgroups reported different substances used and addiction severity. More involvement in the Hispanic culture was associated with lower treatment retention, and Hispanics who spoke English at home had fewer days abstinent. U.S. birthplace and more years in the U.S. predicted abstinence in some Hispanics.

How do Spanish-Speaking Substance Abuse Treatment Programs Operate?

The operation of these programs is similar to any programs that are English based. Someone requiring treatment would normally receive an addiction assessment, which could be done over the phone or in-person. The purpose of an assessment is to determine the extent of addiction and what treatment options are available. Also, an assessment benefits the family and addict when searching for Spanish rehabilitation options. The first phase of rehabilitation involves a detox, either a medical detox or a conventional detox.

Medically supervised detox provides withdrawal management and medical supervision for someone addicted to opioids, prescription drugs, or large alcohol quantities. Medical detox programs are also offered in Spanish, and withdrawal management helps ease the withdrawal symptoms' discomfort and pain. Conventional detox typically manages street drug addiction and drugs that do not cause dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Detox should not be considered the only treatment approach because it will not treat underlying issues.

The next phase of rehabilitation after detox involves attending inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation. The assessment would help determine what is needed. Typically, residential treatment is either long-term or short-term, and programs are designed for intense treatment daily while the patient lives at the facility. Outpatient rehabilitation is a good option for an addict that is still working and has family support. The patient does not live at the treatment center and must attend rehabilitation daily. It is also crucial to arrange aftercare support such as peer support, recovering housing, or an outpatient treatment center.

According to an article titled Understanding Barriers to Speciality Substance Abuse Treatment Among Latinos, Latinos seek help for a substance use problem at very low rates despite the high need for treatment. The study reports that Latinos underutilize specialty abuse treatment services, and only 3% to 7% of Latinos with an addiction report every using specialty substance abuse treatment. Research has indicated that Latinos face greater barriers to treatment, such as language, paying for treatment, finding services, and childcare issues.

Moreover, cultural barriers were the prominent reason for not using treatment among Latinos. Hispanic and Latinos describe cultural factors in relation to treatment utilization. Many perceived providers as being unfamiliar with Latino culture and never having experienced important social contexts. Stigma was also a strong theme, and Latinos described the treatment as a personal failure and defeat. Spanish-speaking substance abuse treatment helps patients bridge these barriers to ensure they have proper treatment and care access.

Are There Alternatives to Spanish Speaking Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation?

According to a Substance Use Treatment and Enrollment and Treatment Focus, and the Behavioral Health Barometer Vol. 5, in 2017, 47.4% of those struggling with addiction received treatment for a drug problem. Approximately 37% received treatment for both drugs and alcohol, and 15.6% received treatment for an alcohol problem. Among Hispanics aged 12 or older with alcohol addiction, only 2.9% received treatment.

Alternatives to Spanish speaking substance abuse treatment are programs that only English speaking. However, this does not benefit someone that speaks Spanish, or Spanish is their first language. Most substance abuse treatment programs provide services in English, but many of them offer help in Spanish. Problems with addiction are widespread within the Latino and Hispanic communities. According to an article written for NPR, opioid overdoses among Latinos are surging nationwide. Between 2014 and 2016, Latino fatalities increased by 52.5%.

Alternative programs would work for someone that is bilingual, but not necessarily for someone who's first and only language is Spanish. When working with clients who do not speak English as a first language, the challenge for treatment providers is to ensure that the client can apply the treatment and recovery principles when they complete the program. The possibility of a communication gap creates the risk that the individual will not retain the information they need to maintain sobriety. Moreover, someone who struggles to understand the people they are working with may not even finish treatment.

Spanish-speaking programs are especially important for members of the Hispanic Latino population that are struggling with opioid addiction and abuse. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a demographic shift was observed in the opioid epidemic. Dramatic increases in opioid misuse and overdose deaths among Hispanic and Latino populations have been observed.

According to the report, opioid abuse rates, including heroin and pain medication, are similar to the national population rate of about 4%. In 2018, 1.7 million Hispanic and Latinos aged 12 and older engaged in opioid misuse. In 2017, synthetic opioids accounted for nearly 55% of the opioid-related overdose deaths and 36% of the total drug overdose deaths for Hispanics. From 2014 to 2017, drug overdose death rates involving synthetic opioids cause the sharpest increase in overdose deaths among the Hispanic population.

Opioid addiction treatment programs in Spanish are essential for managing these ongoing issues. Medical detox, medication-assisted treatment, inpatient rehabilitation, and even aftercare services for Spanish speaking people are crucial to ensure well-rounded rehabilitation.

Common Terminology with Spanish-Speaking Substance Abuse Treatment

Term Definition
Hispanic a term that refers to persons, cultures, or countries originally related to Spain, the Spanish language and culture, or to Spanish America. Hispanic or Latino refers to a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.
Latino and Latina are a noun and adjective used in English, Spanish, and Portuguese to refer to people in the United States with cultural ties to Latin America.
Acculturation is a process of social, psychological, and cultural change that stems from the balancing of two cultures while adapting to society's prevailing culture. Acculturation becomes a barrier and reason for drug use among some Hispanic people in the United States.
At-Risk Alcohol Use is defined as more than four drinks per day or 14 in a week for me and more than three drinks a day or seven per week for women.
Compulsive Alcohol Use defined as someone who drinks more than the recommended one drink for women or two drinks for men a day or more than seven for women or 14 for men in a week. Compulsive alcohol use could also fall into the category of binge drinking.
Opioid Addiction the compulsive or even recreational use of opioids that result in dependence, tolerance, and withdrawal, and an inability to stop using opioids.
Medication-Assisted Treatment MAT is the use of medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, which is effective in the treatment of opioid use disorders by managing withdrawal symptoms.
Residential Rehabilitation is a treatment facility for drug and or alcohol addiction that is provided to patients in a residential setting. Patients reside at the residential treatment facility for the duration of their treatment program, which could be short-term or long-term.
Outpatient Rehabilitation refers to addiction treatment when not admitted to a residential treatment facility. Outpatient treatment programs offer a blend of services that are usually more affordable and accessible when compared to residential rehabilitation.
Recovery Housing refers to safe, healthy, and substance-free living environments that support individuals in recovery from addiction. Recovery residences vary widely in the structure; all are centered on peer support and connection to services that promote long-term recovery.

CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ARTICLE

Marcel Gemme, DATS - Author

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Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. He also dealt with the families and friends of those people; he saw first-hand how much strain addiction puts on a family and how it can tear relationships apart. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people. He is a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist graduate with Honours of Stratford Career Institute. Marcel has also received a certificate from Harvard for completing a course entitled The Opioid Crisis in America and a certificate from The University of Adelaide for completing a course entitled AddictionX: Managing Addiction: A Framework for Succesful Treatment.


Michael Leach, CCMA - Medically Reviewed on September 17, 2021

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Michael Leach is a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant, who has over 5 years of experience working in the field of addiction. He spent his career working under the board-certified Addictionologist Dr. Rohit Adi. His experience includes working with families during their loved one’s stay in treatment, helping those with substance abuse issues find treatment, and teaching life skills to patients in a recovery atmosphere. Though he has worked in many different areas of rehabilitation, the majority of his time was spent working one on one with patients who were actively withdrawing from drugs. Withdrawal and the fear of going through it is one biggest reason why an addict continues to use and can be the most difficult part of the rehabilitation process. His experience in the withdrawal atmosphere has taught him that regardless of what approach a person takes to get off drugs, there are always mental and emotional obstacles that need to be overcome. He believes having someone there to help a person through these obstacles can make all the difference during the withdrawal process.