One of the fastest growing demographic populations in the United States is the Latino and Hispanic community. Hispanic and Latino men and women make up a significant part of the American population. They are moving into of more and more American cities and having an influence on American culture. Certainly, the American culture is having an influence on them as well, and perhaps part of this is the way that Americans view drinking, getting drunk, and the use of alcohol in social settings.
For this reason, it’s important to know how the field of substance abuse treatment is taking this fast growing population into consideration. In the last decade, the American Psychological Association has become more and more sensitive to cultural differences. There is a growing recognition that mental illnesses, including addiction, are not standard across cultures. What is considered to be a symptom of a disorder in one culture might be entirely acceptable in others. One example of this is the view within the Native American culture that hearing the voice of a deceased relative is considered normal. However, typically, in Western culture, this might be seen as a symptom of a psychotic disorder.
The same is also applies to the substance abuse treatment. The Hispanic culture differs from that of America despite the ever-growing integration of both populations. For instance, Latinos highly value family. In some cases, discussing personal family issues might feel like a form of disloyalty to a Hispanic recovering addict in a group therapy session, for instance. A therapist would want to be mindful of this concern and perhaps not force the participation of a Hispanic/Latino recovery addict to discuss family issues, particularly in the presence of others.
Struggle Admitting Substance Abuse
Although the American culture tends to place value on asserting oneself, the Hispanic culture tends to value the harmony between people more than individuality. With this in mind, it might be challenging for a recovery addict to admit a problem he or she is having with others while in substance abuse treatment. For instance, if a therapist or group facilitator is exploring relationship concerns and how they are contributing to addiction, a Hispanic/Latino recovery addict might not be willing to participate. Instead, it might be better to discuss any relationship concerns that person is having while in individual therapy. In fact, even giving voice to this in individual therapy can help build rapport with a Hispanic/Latino adult so that he or she can be more and more comfortable sharing personal struggles.
Values on Treatment Sessions
Hispanics and Latinos value interpersonal relationships. Typically, an American therapist, drug counselor, or group facilitator will rarely disclose any personal information to clients, unless it’s therapeutically useful. However, doing so with Hispanic/Latino adults can increase the level of rapport, trust, and belief in the professional abilities of the therapist. As with any client, a relationship that is respectful and caring can help build therapeutic rapport. However, this seems to be particularly true with Hispanics.
Furthermore, Hispanic/Latino adults tend to have a high level of respect for individuals of authority. For this reason, they might place a significant amount of value on the suggestions offered by a therapist or drug counselor. This could in fact serve the psychological growth of an adolescent well. However, some Hispanic teens might actually fear their therapists because of their perceived authority, preventing an authentic therapeutic relationship. Furthermore, some Hispanic/Latino adults who are undocumented immigrants might carry considerable fear of American professionals, fearing possible deportation, which also might inhibit the productivity of treatment sessions.
All of the above are important to consider when treating a Hispanic/Latino adult. Although most Hispanic/Latino individuals in substance abuse treatment in the United States might already be acclimated to American society, their cultural views, beliefs, and traditions might still play a significant role in their mental health treatment and sobriety.