RACE AND RECOVERY: DISPARITIES IN BEHAVIORAL HEALTH TREATMENT
• August 2020 •
The impact of addiction and mental illness is felt across all demographic groups, but the promise of recovery is less widespread.
· 88.7% of African Americans diagnosed with a substance use disorder (SUD) did not receive addiction treatment;
· 90% of 3.3 million Latinos with a SUD did not receive treatment, and 67% of 6.9 million Latinos with a mental illness received no treatment;
· Asian Americans are 51% less likely to take advantage of mental health services than white Americans; and
· Blacks, Latinos, and American Indians are less likely than whites to complete addiction treatment.
People of color make up 40% of admissions to publicly-funded substance abuse treatment programs, but they are at particularly high risk for poor outcomes. Why?
We know that income plays a big role. Racial and ethnic groups make up a greater percentage of the poor, and low-income families have reduced access to effective, evidence-based behavioral health programs. Structural racism and discrimination in the healthcare system (at times unintended) are other significant barriers experienced by people of color. So is the cultural and self-stigma attached to accessing alcohol, drug, and mental health treatment. The disproportionate number of Black and Brown people who are incarcerated in America also plays a part. While the criminal justice system has potential as an important pathway into treatment, most jails and prisons lack treatment slots.
These are all long-standing treatment barriers — L.A. CADA was established 49 years ago to provide greater access to treatment for disadvantaged populations. We have developed evidence-based services specific to Latino adults and youth, African Americans, LGBTQ+ individuals, incarcerated adults, and other groups that face treatment barriers. Yet so much more remains to be done. Working to overcome racial and ethnic treatment barriers is our agency mission. It’s also a privilege to be entrusted with this critical work.
Learn about: mental health and racism