Nav: Home

Study points to how low-income, resource-poor communities can reduce substance abuse

April 21, 2016

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Cocaine use has increased substantially among African Americans in some of the most underserved areas of the United States. Interventions designed to increase connection to and support from non-drug using family and friends, with access to employment, the faith community, and education, are the best ways to reduce substance use among African Americans and other minorities in low-income, resource-poor communities, concludes a study led by a medical anthropologist at the University of California, Riverside.

The study, which analyzed substance-use life history interviews carried out from 2010 to 2012, focused on urban and rural locations within the Arkansas Mississippi Delta - a region characterized by strained race relations, a stagnant economy, high unemployment, low incomes and high emigration, and where the population is predominantly African Americans living in poverty.

"African Americans within such contexts often face multiple obstacles to accessing formal drug treatment services, including access to care and lack of culturally appropriate treatment programs," said lead researcher Ann Cheney, an assistant professor in the department of social medicine and population health in the Center for Healthy Communities in the UC Riverside School of Medicine. "Despite these obstacles, many initiate and maintain recovery without accessing formal treatment. They do so by leveraging resources or what we refer to as 'recovery capital' - employment, education, faith community - by strategically connecting to and obtaining support from non-drug using family and friends."

The study, published this week in the journal Substance Use and Misuse, illustrates that social networks and the resources embedded within them are critical to reduce substance use among minorities in resource-poor communities.

"Recovery without treatment, also called natural recovery, is common and perhaps even more prevalent among ethnic and racial minorities than among Whites," Cheney explained. "Cocaine use varies along racial lines and social class and is increasingly a problem among African Americans in rural Arkansas."

Fifty-one African American current cocaine users participated in the study. They were between the ages of 18 and 61, represented by men and women about equally, and reported no formal drug use treatment/counseling in the past 30 days. Each provided information that included his/her perception of substance abuse in the community, cocaine use history, attempts to cut down or stop cocaine use, and treatment experiences.

Cheney and her colleagues found that nearly three-quarters of the participants (72 percent) reported at least one attempt in their lifetimes to reduce or quit cocaine use, motivated by:
  • Social role expectations (desires to be better parents or caregivers and responsible persons, prevent harming their children, become more present in their children's lives, prevent hurting loved ones).
  • Fatigue (participants were tired of the drug lifestyle and its effects on their physical and mental health).
  • Criminal justice involvement (incarceration forced participants to quit cocaine use).
  • Access to recovery capital (most participants accessed substance use treatment programs or self-help groups at some point in their lives).
  • Abstinence-supporting networks (these helped participants reduce cocaine use and/or achieve temporary recovery outside of rehab).
  • Pro-social lives and activities (participation in church, leisure-time activities were critical to reducing cocaine use).
  • Religion and spirituality (faith in the divine helped participants reduce or quit cocaine use).
"Our analysis showed that recovery without treatment largely coincided with lifestyle changes and shifting social relationships," Cheney said. "African Americans, especially those in rural areas, often face personal, cultural, and structural barriers to accessing formal treatment programs. This makes reducing or quitting cocaine use without formal treatment a more feasible alternative and encourages reliance on existing networks of support. Interventions that are culturally appropriate and feasible within their resource-poor communities are needed. While accessing resources in faith communities is normative among African Americans in the South, other minority or underserved populations may hold different values and find valued resources within other social spaces."

According to Cheney, ideally, the best approach would be for interventions to increase users' access to resources that would allow them to live more conventional lifestyles (e.g., employment, stable housing) and meaningful lives (e.g., non-drug using friends, faith or supportive communities).

"This approach is ideal in resource-poor communities - as long as interventions are tailored to local contexts and cultures," she said.

Cheney was joined in the research by Brenda M. Booth and Geoffrey M. Curran at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock; and Tyrone F. Borders at the University of Kentucky, Lexington.

The research was supported by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health.

Cheney is continuing her focus on the role of social networks in substance use outcomes and recovery among minority populations. Next, she will systematically examine the role of social networks in substance use risk among Latinos in southern California's Inland Empire.
-end-
The University of California, Riverside is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion. A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.

University of California - Riverside

Related Cocaine Articles:

Cocaine addiction leads to build-up of iron in brain
Cocaine addiction may affect how the body processes iron, leading to a build-up of the mineral in the brain, according to new research from the University of Cambridge.
Potential new treatment for cocaine addiction
A team of researchers led by Cardiff University has discovered a promising new drug treatment for cocaine addiction.
Study using animal model provides clues to why cocaine is so addictive
Scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center are one step closer to understanding what causes cocaine to be so addictive.
Magnetic stimulation of the brain may help patients with cocaine addiction
Baltimore, MD Targeted magnetic pulses to the brain were shown to reduce craving and substance use in cocaine-addicted patients.
New insights on how cocaine changes the brain
The burst of energy and hyperactivity that comes with a cocaine high is a rather accurate reflection of what's going on in the brain of its users, finds a study published Nov.
UK awarded $6 million to further develop treatment for cocaine abuse
University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy Professor Chang-Guo Zhan, along with fellow UK Professors Fang Zheng and Sharon Walsh, and Professor Mei-Chuan Ko from Wake Forest University, recently received $6 million in funding over five years to further develop a potential treatment for cocaine abuse.
Cocaine addiction, craving and relapse
One of the major challenges of cocaine addiction is the high rate of relapse after periods of withdrawal and abstinence.
Which is most valuable: Gold, cocaine or rhino horn?
Elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, gorillas and the majority of other very large animal species are threatened with extinction, an international team of scientists reported this month in the open-access online journal Science Advances.
Cocaine changes the brain and makes relapse more common in addicts
Cocaine use causes 'profound changes' in the brain that lead to an increased risk of relapse due to stress -- according to new research from the University of East Anglia.
WSU researchers see way cocaine hijacks memory
Washington State University researchers have found a mechanism in the brain that facilitates the pathologically powerful role of memory in drug addiction.

Related Cocaine Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Crisis
There's no greater threat to humanity than climate change. What can we do to stop the worst consequences? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can save our planet and whether we can do it in time. Guests include climate activist Greta Thunberg, chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox, research scientist Sean Davis, food innovator Bruce Friedrich, and psychologist Per Espen Stoknes.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...