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Access to religious groups, schools may help curb substance use in weaker communities

Access to religious groups, schools may help curb substance use in weaker communities

For decades, cocaine has been one of the most abused drugs in the United States. However, its abuse is more prevalent in some of the most underserved areas of the nation. In fact, a steep rise in the drug’s abuse has been witnessed among African Americans living in such areas.

A recent study by the University of California, Riverside, has suggested that substance abuse in resource-poor communities can be curbed by improving people’s access to various institutions, such as faith communities, schools, workplaces, etc. The study, published in the journal Substance Use and Misuse in April 2016, emphasized the importance of having ties with non-drug using family and peers in reducing substance abuse in economically backward areas.

For the study, the researchers reviewed the data of substance abuse patients who were interviewed during 2010-2012. The focus area of the study included the Arkansas Mississippi Delta, where the population was mostly African Americans suffering from slow economic conditions, strained relationships, rising unemployment, etc. Nearly 51 African Americans aged between 19 and 61 years who were involved in cocaine abuse participated in the study. The participants didn’t receive any treatment or counseling 30 days prior to the study.

On exploring further, the researchers found that nearly 72 percent participants were encouraged to quit cocaine use at least once in their lifetime due to factors such as:

  • Increased social responsibilities, especially for those who were keen on becoming better parents and providing good care to their children and dear ones
  • Lethargy caused by overindulgence into substances, and mental and physical problems due to an unhealthy lifestyle
  • Law prohibiting drug use and misuse that forced addicts to give up cocaine use
  • Access to substance abuse treatment programs
  • Help offered by abstinence-supporting networks to reduce cocaine abuse outside the rehab
  • Participation in church and leisure-time activities
  • Faith in religion and power of God

The study highlighted the importance of social networks and resources that were ingrained in the lives of certain sections of the society and which can go a long way in helping people lead a fulfilling life, devoid of any addictions. Many ethnic and minority groups still rely on natural treatments that involve lifestyle changes and improvements in social relationships.

Living more conventional lifestyle can be helpful

However, the researchers believed that living more conventional lifestyle, such as being employed and availing other basic requirements, along with an opportunity to find valued resources, such as, non-drug using friends, faith or supportive communities, can help people lead a meaningful life, even in resource-poor communities.

Lead researcher Ann Cheney, assistant professor in the department of social medicine and population health in the Center for Healthy Communities in the UC Riverside School of Medicine, said, “This approach is ideal in resource-poor communities — as long as interventions are tailored to local contexts and cultures.”

Path to recovery

Addiction is a devastating neurological disorder that needs to be addressed on an urgent basis. According to a 2015 report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), illicit drug use in the U.S. is consistently on the rise. People struggling with addiction are often found to take risks on account of depression and other psychiatric symptoms.

If you or your loved one has been living under the shadow of drug abuse and is looking for treatment, please visit the Texas Drug Addiction Treatment Helpline to know about the available drug rehabilitation centers in Texas. You may call our 24/7 helpline at 855-980-5757 or chat online for information regarding various drug addiction treatment centers in Texas.

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