Addiction is a mental illness that results in irrational and often self destructive behavior and often is related to substance use. Substance use disorders affect more than twenty million Americans. When seeking treatments, though, representation that can address the needs of patients isn’t as reflective of the population.
Minority groups such as African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans represent nearly thirty percent of the population in the United States yet within the medical field treating addiction, they have just ten percent representation professionally. The gap in representation has the risk of providing culturally uniformed care or result in discrimination which may not be addressed and can have a negative effect on the effectiveness of treatment and discourage people in need from seeking treatment as well.
In light of the deficiency having been identified, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has awarded a grant for $1 million each year for five years to the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP) in collaboration with the American College of Academic Addiction Medicine (ACAAM) in support of a Yale-based training program, Recognizing and Eliminating disparities in Addiction through Culturally-informed Healthcare (REACH). It’s goal, according to Ayana Jordan, MD, PhD and assistant professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine says, “REACH is an innovative program that will increase the number of addiction providers from underrepresented backgrounds, while also teaching the existing workforce about structural competence and ways to improve outcomes for people with substance use disorders.”
REACH’s methods will involve cross pollination of the medicine community and the psychiatry community in collaboration to provide education and training in addiction treatment areas of of their field. According to Jordan, The grant will provide funding for the recruitment and training among early career trainees, including medical students, residents, and fellows in Addiction Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine.
The REACH program identified the effects of the deficiency in care services offered to minorities and seeks to remedy them starting with the next five years:
- Social and cultural stigma associated with accessing use treatment
- Mistrust of the medical system due to historic maltreatment of minority clients
- lack of healthcare coverage
- circuitous and difficult pathways to care
- lower socioeconomic status
- absence of culturally informed treatment options
- minority populations seeking treatment from minority professionals
Of the program, Jordan praised the project’s aims, saying, “As a medical director on this project, I am elated that SAMHSA has provided the necessary resources to address the shortage of physicians in the addiction workforce, while also providing a platform for these providers to receive deliberate training in culturally-informed care.”
REACH will also have training for non-minorities about underrepresented backgrounds.
“REACH is an innovative program that will increase the number of addiction providers from underrepresented backgrounds, while also teaching the existing workforce about structural competence and ways to improve outcomes for people with substance use disorders.”
Addiction doesn’t discriminate, though. If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, or substance use disorder, contact a south Florida drug rehab center like 1st Step Behavioral Health (866-319-6126). South Florida detox and residential detox programs can be tailored to the individual.