How Does Culture Influence Holistic Therapy Planning & Client Services?

Culture is a driving force behind an individual’s personal identity and may influence a person’s ability to permanently leave their addiction behind them once choose to seek holistic treatment. Understanding how race, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic factors influence a person’s propensity to develop drug addiction problems helps drug-dependent individuals and their families prepare for recovery.

Holistic Therapy Center Treatment Plans & Cultural Influences

Race & Ethnicity

Therapists working in a holistic recovery center today often involve influential leaders from a drug-dependent client’s community to help create a personalized program. For example, serving a Native American tribe member achieve freedom from substance misuse may include consulting with a clan mother, a recovering tribe member and someone knowledgeable about spiritual traditions and cultural norms.

The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHS) recommends an integrated approach for Native American and Alaska Native clients because, “Traditionally, Native Americans have understood that the mind, body, and spirit are inseparable.” This population group also faces unique education and economic barriers that could present hardships not seen in other ethnic groups.

An evidence-based, culturally sensitive treatment plan considers barriers and catalysts for change.

Age & Social Pressure

Misusing illicit drugs affect every age group from the preborn developing in the womb to octogenarians and beyond. One group that has seen positive declines in drug misuse numbers is teenagers. The Monitoring the Future 2017 survey published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows a significant drop in illicit drug use, excluding marijuana, among teens compared to earlier reports.

  • 8th Graders – Down to 5.8% compared to 13.1% (1996)
  • 10th Graders – Down to 9.4% compared to 18.4% (1996)
  • 12th Graders – Down to 13.3% compared to (2001)

However, positive trends don’t eliminate the reasons teens experiment with drugs and alcohol in the first place. According to Cigna, a major insurance provider, teens turn to substances to feel better about themselves, fit in with peer groups, and because they want to feel more grown up.

Some teens battle underlying mental health disorders like depression, OCD, and ADHD, which require complex management along with holistic treatment plans.

Gender & Substance Abuse Risks

Historically, there were two static genders, male and female. Recently, the medical community has slowly shifted toward recognizing gender fluidity and self-identification as valid characteristics. The binary model shows males are more likely than females to admit to heavy drinking, at least occasionally. Numerous longitudinal studies on the correlation between gender fluidity and substance misuse aren’t available yet; however, we do know that people considered “sexual minorities” are more than two times as likely to develop substance abuse problems as their heterosexual counterparts – 39.1% and 17.1% respectively. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual teens are especially at an increased risk, 90% more likely to use illicit substances than straight adolescents.

Hope for the Suffering+

Multi-dimensional, holistic therapy considers culture, underlying health conditions, family dynamics and other factors that influence a drug-dependent client’s ability to return to freedom from addiction. Knowing that African American heroin addicts tend to stay more connected to their family unit than Caucasian heroin addicts allows counselors to customize recovery plans based on ethnic and racial norms. Understanding the unique stressors sexual minorities face, helps therapists choose appropriate after care activities.

And, incorporating spiritual support based on a client’s own beliefs and values improves compliance and outcomes. Treating the whole person, physically, mentally, and spiritually rather than trying to create permanent change by modifying a single behavior makes perfect sense. Bringing enduring hope to the hopeless is possible when addiction is seen as an illness that touches every aspect of an individual’s life.

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