Debunking Addiction Stereotypes: Race & Ethnicity
It’s no secret that racial stereotypes can affect the way we view other people. From the way people drive or how much they tip at restaurants to the kind of food they like to eat, how we view other races is often determined by long-held, inaccurate generalizations that have little to do with reality.
While it’s true that substance abuse and addiction affects ethnic populations at different rates, people of all races are vulnerable. In this post, we’ll take a look at what the actual data has to say about the relationship between your race and your propensity to addiction.
Addiction Doesn’t Care About Your Skin Color
Every year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services conducts a national survey on drug use and health. In the survey, the government looks for trends, statistics and insights into how substance abuse is impacting our population. Race and ethnicity is just one of many factors the government considers when conducting the survey and analyzing results. So, what does the survey actually tell us about the relationship between addiction and race? The results may surprise you.
According to the survey, certain minority populations are actually among the least likely to abuse drugs or alcohol. On the other end of the spectrum, the two populations with the highest rates of substance abuse probably aren’t what you thought they were at all. Let’s take a look at what the survey found from lowest to highest rate of drug use by race and ethnicity.
Substance Abuse Rate by Race
• Asians – 4.1%
• Hispanics – 8.9%
• African Americans – 12.4%
• American Indians & Alaska Natives – 14.9%
• Native Hawaiians & Pacific Islanders – 15.6%
Correlation is Not Causation
It would be easy to look at this list and jump to the conclusion that American Indians are simply hard-wired for substance abuse. Or, that people of Asian descent, for the most part, don’t need to worry as much about becoming addicted. However, just like economic status , a person’s race does not directly cause an addiction to drugs or alcohol. It doesn’t even necessarily make someone more likely to become addicted in the first place.
What’s Really Going On with Race and Addiction?
Instead of thinking about race as a determining factor in drug addiction, consider the impact of belonging to a minority population that is largely marginalized by society. Would you still have access to the same mental health services? Quality education? What about a job that pays enough to support yourself or your family?
Environmental factors like these and others , have far more to do with substance abuse and addiction than your race. As a society, if we let inaccurate stereotypes influence our approach to fighting substance abuse, we’re taking away attention from the populations who really do need more help. We’re also making it more difficult for people who don’t fit the racial stereotype of an addict to seek treatment.
Addiction Affects People of All Races
Race doesn’t protect us from addiction any more than it causes us to become addicted. At The Raleigh House, we understand the true causes of addiction. That’s why we offer residents a comprehensive drug rehab program that address the behavioral, psychological and nutritional needs of recovering addicts.
To learn more about our addiction treatment program, our family-focused approach and our payment options, call us today! Our experts are standing by to help.