Drug & Alcohol Treatment Services for the Hispanic Community in the United States
Over the past four decades, the Hispanic and Latin American population has grown steadily, and is the nation's largest ethnic or racial minority, contributing over 57 million people. Roughly 28% of the non-native population of the United States is from Mexico. Much of the substance abuse among these types of cultures can begin with immigration, from leaving their home country, to arriving at their destination, and then acclimatizing to their new surroundings. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism explains that many problems that foreign workers, students, and spouses might face are a result of their immigration from one country to another. Of course, there are problems that are more published within mainstream media such as racism and discrimination, language and communication barriers, and difficulties adapting to local customs. There are many stressors that are involved with immigration, but when looking at second, third, or even fourth generation Hispanic and Latin Americans the problems with substance abuse can be attributed to the environment, up-bringing, physical and emotional traumas, and the daily life stress. All of this is no different than what any other American faces, whether they are born within the country or immigrated to it.
When looking at immigration among Hispanic and Latin American people, the problem of acculturation can be at the fore front. Someone who is going through cultural and psychosocial changes with trying to adapt to new and unfamiliar cultures, will experience different levels of stress. How someone copes with this stress is distinct for each person, but drugs and alcohol do provide an easy way to handle the stress. Acculturation can bring about many problems that can lead to drug and alcohol abuse, such as not being able to communicate clearly, or facing barriers with becoming a citizen. Other issues may occur where a new immigrant will become part of an at-risk demographic for substance abuse, and then themselves become addicted to drugs or alcohol. Many people from different cultures will take extra measures to fit in with those around them, and this is true with second and third generation Hispanic and Latin Americans. For example, the consumption of alcohol is looked at differently within each culture, and with American culture, Young Hispanic and Latin Americans may start to binge drink as a way to fit in with the crowd they are hanging around with.drinking is a common problem.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported that when Hispanics choose to drink, they will often consume more alcohol than non-Hispanics. Roughly 33% of the Hispanic Americans who become dependent on alcohol will have recurring addiction problems. Despite many different Spanish-speaking drug and alcohol treatment services throughout the United States, many Hispanics struggling with substance abuse are not aware these services exist. There are many things that do impede Hispanic Americans from joining support groups, and this is a lack of health insurance, and not knowing anyone who can help them. Many states will not have drug treatment that does specifically focus on Hispanic issues, cultural differences, and religious dynamics of the Spanish-speaking community. Picking up many dangerous and self-destructive habits because of acculturation can be a problem. There are, however, both positive and negative acculturation influences, in ways that are beneficial and harmful. There are dozens of potential risk factors that can lead to an addiction, but there are also numerous ways for anyone to avoid becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol. For example, immigrants from Puerto Rico tend to have the heaviest Hispanic drinkers, and when they become part of a group who drinks heavily, it will be easy to fall into. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that Hispanic Americans are more likely to need substance abuse treatment than non-Hispanics; however, Hispanic Americans are less likely to receive treatment for a drug and alcohol problem.
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