The Relationship Between African Americans, Afro-Caribbean Americans, And Addiction
A study conducted by the American Journal of Health found that African Americans have a lower rate of addiction (11.5%) compared to whites (12%), but a higher rate of addiction when compared to Afro-Caribbean Americans (9.6%). This difference is most pronounced among women. African American women have an addiction rate of 6.3%, while Afro-Caribbean women have a 2.8% rate of addiction. First generation Afro-Caribbean Americans have lower rates of addiction, possibly due to social and spiritual beliefs that differ from other cultures. However, second and third generation Afro-Caribbeans have higher rates of addiction compared to first-generation Afro-Caribbeans.
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African Americans, Afro-Caribbeans, And Opioids
The Opioid crisis affects thousands of American each day, not excluding Black Americans. While most of its victims are white Americans, many minorities are affected as well. Race and class have factored into how Black people have been diagnosed and treated. According to a New York Times article, until disturbingly recently, doctors were leery of prescribing Black patients with Opioids. The reasons being the beliefs that Black patients would sell prescription drugs, didn’t need them, or they’d become addicted.
This may have prevented Opioid overdoses in the Black community. However, the lack of proper medical care that Black patients received may have caused them to look elsewhere for medications or suffer more than white counterparts. Research has disproved stereotypes doctors have made about Black patients selling drugs and have disproven beliefs Black patients will get addicted.
Despite this, the number of fatal Fentanyl overdoses in the Black community continues to rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “Non-Hispanic Black persons had the largest annual percentage increase in rates from 2011 through 2016 (140.6% per year).” Sadly, Black patients are less likely to have access to Buprenorphine, which reduces Opioid cravings, making them more likely to suffer overdoses, and are also the least likely to have financial access to care.
African Americans And Crack Cocaine Addiction
Crack Cocaine has been one of the most abused substances in the Black community. From the 1970s and 1980s, an influx of Crack Cocaine made its way into the African American community, particularly in inner cities, sparking what President Richard Nixon called the “War on Drugs.” This sparked numerous anti-drug campaigns in America, which often showcased African Americans using Crack Cocaine in the inner-city communities. Many in America could not understand or empathize with African Americans abusing Crack Cocaine, and racial stereotypes became more crystalized, which led to significant disparities in treatment and incarceration.
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Similar to members of the LGBTQ community, African Americans and Afro-Caribbeans have endured minority stress. Racial profiling, police brutality, violence within some communities within the Black community, unequal professional and educational opportunities, and many other challenges and frustrations disproportionately affect the Black community. This can cause minority stress, which can manifest as anxiety, depression, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, and other mental and emotional consequences that can lead to substance use disorders (SUDs).
African Americans And Alcoholism Patterns
Although only 20.4% of African Americans and Afro-Caribbean Americans report drinking alcohol in the last month, alcoholism is one of the 3 leading causes of death in these communities in recent years. African Americans who consume alcohol suffer more health-related problems than other groups; death from cirrhosis was “1.27 times more common” in African American and Afro-Caribbean communities than in whites. Furthermore, alcoholism in the Black community resulted in a “10% higher death rate,” and Black people received fewer health care benefits when compared to other races.
Additionally, African Americans drank “less than whites, but drank in larger amounts when they did drink.” Essentially, on average, African Americans drink less frequently than their white counterparts but struggle more with binge drinking.
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Finding Addiction Treatment For African Americans And Afro-Caribbean Americans
Treatment options are available for a host of ethnicities and faiths. Furthermore, some facilities offer gender-specific treatment. Getting treated for alcoholism or drug addiction should be done in the care of a licensed facility with 24-hour monitoring, providing patients more support for their recovery. Individuals may have access to innovative holistic treatments they would not have access to if detoxing at home. Support groups and counseling are also available. Contact a treatment provider today.
Ashish Bhatt, MD, MRO
Doctor of Addiction Medicine
Learn about Dr. Ashish Bhatt
Dr. Bhatt has been Addiction Center's Medical Content Director for more than three years, providing his expertise to ensure quality and accuracy.
Doctor of Addiction Medicine
Expert in adult and child psychiatry
Over 20 years of professional experience