Use Of Illicit Drugs Are Higher Among African American Women

Evidence provided by the National Survey of Drug Use and Health has suggested, since at least 2010, substance abuse among African American women has been significantly higher than the national average. Why this is still isn’t fully understood. There are, however, a few problems that have been highlighted as contributing factors.

Racism And Substance Abuse

Stress can lead to adverse health outcomes and is one of the top five factors leading to any type of drug abuse, across all populations. If someone feels that they are discriminated against, that raises stress. That higher level of stress leads to a higher risk of substance abuse.

Coping With Stress And Lack Of Social Support

Lack of social support is one of the leading factors contributing to relapse. Many African American women in recovery have reported feeling discriminated against in “open” support groups and feel like they can’t share their experiences openly. This may be due to feeling shame for their addiction. This shame may stem from cultural and ethnic identity.

This same strong cultural or ethnic identity could also be protective once an African American woman has overcome her addiction or made progress in her recovery. If she can find a group that she identifies with, such as a religious institution or cultural organization, she is more likely to be protected or insulated from further illicit drug use.

No matter how it starts, added stress is a large part of why many African American women are more likely to abuse a given substance or drug. It can also make it harder to reach out and get help when they need it or to maintain their sobriety for their entire lives.

Limited Availability Of Treatment

With this added stress and higher risk when it comes to substance abuse of any kind, access to treatment may be key to overcoming substance abuse and addiction. It has been noted that African American women are at a disadvantage when it comes to securing a place in a treatment program or finding the resources needed to pay for treatment.

Further, African American women with disabilities are at an increased disadvantage and an even higher risk of developing a substance abuse problem or addiction. Due to lack of access to support programs or a feeling of isolation from their communities, these women are likely to develop secondary addictions, relapse, or suffer from impaired mental health.