Research on alcohol and ethnicity reveal that minority ethnic groups are less likely to take advantage of all preventative and supportive services. Orford comments that despite growing levels of alcohol use among migrant populations, there remain low levels of awareness around the dangers of addiction, as well as a perceived lack of accessibility to sources that provide advice relating to drinking. Compounding this issue, discussions about the addiction with the family or close friends is not seen as a viable option.Most of the respondents indicated that they believe that the most accessible programs come through health centers or your general practitioner. These facilities can seem daunting to approach, which raises the very important issue of the appropriateness and accessibility of services available for ethnic minority groups. In order to properly address the causes of addiction, we need to offer basic education and health promotion advice that helps foster rehabilitation and teaches recovery care that is culturally sensitive. Many community health and welfare professionals have limited awareness of the cultural elements that come into play with alcohol-related issues, and as such clients may not be able to access suitable support services that are culturally and linguistically appropriate. HWF strives to take a closer look at the cultural mindfulness that needs to be incorporated in such programs to ensure greater understanding of patient needs. Through our research we have found that the following action points are essential in such programs:

  • Staff trainings
  • Culturally mindful staff/client pairings
  • Quarterly consultation of users
  • Cooperative family relationships
  • Complementary therapy options

Above all, the services need to be flexible and creative. Traditional models of counselling are often not appropriate to meet the needs of ethnic minorities. When working with South Asian clients, the support workers need to understand the patient’s family structure, community groups, and dissonance that comes with trying to assimilate minority cultures into the main stream culture. It is crucial that these workers develop a cultural mindfulness of their clients by valuing and acknowledging their way of being. Within every culture there are pockets of shifting value systems pertaining to addiction and alcohol. In
fact, one’s very own culture can help facilitate recovery through religion and spirituality.

Furthermore, it is paramount that South Asian youth experiencing difficulties with alcohol find someone to speak to who will not judge them and who will support them during recovery. They should also feel secure about confidentiality issues and have confidence in the professionalism of support workers.

HWF is in the process of training local South Asian community members who are passionate about working with individuals and family dealing with addiction. Services provided will include support groups and counseling for those seeking treatment, as well as facilitated support groups for family members.

Please contact us if you are interested in joining our addiction support team.


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