Why Do Addiction and Mental Health Treatment Services Need to Be Culturally Specific?
I am the UK’s first addiction rehabilitation service provider, with a treatment program designed specifically for British Asians. By understanding Asian culture and its family dynamics I can more effectively communicate with and understand my clients. I am able to connect with my clients to discover and address the underlying reasons behind their addiction or mental health problems.
Traditional treatment programs provided by the country’s most well known clinics fail to understand ethnic minority clients because they do not understand their cultural backgrounds. As such, the success rate of treating ethnic minority clients has been very low.
Research conducted by the NHS concluded that culturally competent services are necessary to ensure that alcohol abuse and drug addiction treatment services can effectively cater for ethnic minority groups. Unfortunately, lack of funding within the NHS prevents them from providing such specialised services.
Various professional studies have concluded that there is a need to understand the addict’s cultural value system and background in order to effectively help them in combating their addiction. One-to-one counselling and group therapy sessions are ineffective if the counsellor or fellow group members are unable to fully relate to the addict’s circumstances. Explaining ethnically related issues to a counsellor who is not from an Asian background carries the risk that the cultural context will not be fully understood. Consequently, the patient may be given advice that is detrimental to their recovery.
I provide the specialised treatment necessary to ensure that British Asians become sober and maintain their sobriety for the rest of their lives. I understand, that clients have a much greater chance of recovering if they’re surrounded by people who have had similar life experiences prior to treatment and are likely to face similar recovery challenges after leaving treatment. In addition to stopping alcohol/drug abuse and behavioural addictions, my goal is to return people to being productive members of the family, workplace and community. I provide essential advice, information and support on addiction and mental health issues to my patients and their families.
People suffering from an addiction find it very difficult to stop without receiving help. They can abstain for small periods of time but without receiving professional help to resolve their underlying issues, they will inevitably keep returning to their addictive ways. My treatment approach works by removing the obsession to intoxicate and teaches clients how to live their lives without wanting or needing to ever use alcohol, drugs or behavioural addictions again.
The advice given by professionals who do not understand Asian cultural values and beliefs can be devastating.
Parents of addicts from Asian communities have criticised mainstream professionals for failing to understand the importance of the family unit in their culture. Some parents have argued that specialist services should be made available regardless of the rates of prevalence within their community.
A Rapid Needs Assessment Report found that 70% of white substance abuse treatment professionals felt uncomfortable dealing with clients from ethnic minorities because they had different needs to those from the white population. Moreover, staff reported that they did not feel competent in dealing with cultural issues.
There is a need for more ‘culturally competent’ services for ethnic minority groups. Current service providers lack the experience and guidance necessary to ensure that services are culturally appropriate. The Department of Health has recognised a need to develop culturally appropriate services for ethnic minority groups. However, it has been claimed that the Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy for England failed to adequately acknowledge or address the needs of ethnic minority communities.
I offer a highly effective treatment program because I am able to fully understand and relate to the client and their family. I am better equipped to grasp facts, thoughts and emotions because I understand the complex social dynamics of the Asian family and culture. I understand the inter-generational conflicts of traditional values of the older generation clashing with the modern values of the younger generation. I believe that mortality and alcohol/drug related illness rates would not be so high if treatment services were culturally competent.
Alcohol plays an integral role within modern day Asian culture and hospitality; often lavishly and freely flaunted at weddings and social gatherings. Such is the importance attributed to providing alcohol that some baptised Sikhs will purchase and provide alcohol at social events and when socialising at home. The Bollywood film industry and Punjabi songwriters, in particular, have glorified excessive drinking to the extent that it has now become fully entrenched within modern day Asian culture.
According to research published in The British Medical Journal, alcohol use is under recognised and alcohol related harm is disproportionately high amongst the British Asian population. Asian men are four times more likely to die of alcohol related liver problems than any other ethnic group. For every 100 white men dying from alcohol related causes there are 160 Asian men dying. Asian men have a higher prevalence of alcohol-related liver damage and liver cirrhosis.
The British Medical Journal also highlights that ethnic minorities make up almost 8% of the population of the United Kingdom, yet their contribution to the cost of alcohol related harm, estimated at £20bn a year, is not widely known. This has led to public health policies based on incorrect assumptions.
Research published in The British Journal of Addiction found that Sikhs were more likely to be regular drinkers when compared to white people. Similarly, of the Muslim men who drink, they too consume more alcohol on average. Among regular drinkers, Sikhs & Muslims showed to have higher average Alcohol Problem Scores.
It’s not just Asian men, there has been a steady increase in the number of Asian women drinking heavily. Binge drinking is becoming more prevalent because of the need to hide alcohol usage due to the taboos surrounding Asian women drinking.
I help addicts understand why they are abusing alcohol or drugs and work with them to resolve their underlying issues and achieve long-term lasting recovery. My treatment programs provide a tailored life plan including healthier alternatives to deal with the underlying issues that are causing the addiction.
If you or someone you care about has a problem – or even if you’re not sure – please contact me on 07999 456 777 for confidential help and advice. It could be the best decision you ever make.