Addiction may be blind to color or culture, but effective addiction treatment takes into account all aspects of a person including cultural heritage, gender, and age. More addiction treatment centers now understand the importance of culture, and the best centers include cultural sensitivity in every aspect of care.
Understanding Culturally Responsible Treatment
Addiction treatment programs that address a person’s cultural and racial background offer more responsible treatment. A culturally sensitive program provides interpreters when necessary, involves the surrounding community, and provides nonjudgmental caregivers. Several groups including the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) acknowledge the importance of cultural concerns, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) collaborates with organizations to develop necessary guidelines.
In the United States, there are many minority groups, and they all need care that incorporates their unique religious beliefs, social norms, and culture. The groups include people of African descent, Asian and Pacific Islanders, Latinos and American Indians, Native Alaskans,s and Native Hawaiians. Cultural understanding includes everything from acceptance of tattoos to the acknowledgment of religious practices.
Health insurance companies, particularly managed care companies, haven’t always valued culturally sensitive care according to SAMHSA’s report on cultural competence standards. The United States continues to become more diverse, however, and cultural competency grows in importance. The past decade in particular has seen more awareness about cultural needs and many health insurance companies are stepping up to promote the better care offered by culturally sensitive providers.
Culture-Based Treatment Options and Health Insurance
Several characteristics should define an addiction treatment center with culturally relevant services according to Magellan Health Services. Magellan helps clients manage mental health services and serves more than 34 million members through its behavioral health business. Health insurers want to promote care that is effective and follows evidence-based guidelines. Research shows that addiction treatments that address cultural factors encourage client retention and client participation according to Magellan.
When looking for an addiction treatment center with culturally relevant services, be sure to consider if it is a vital part of its home community and if all forms of communication include community populations. A culturally relevant treatment center should offer the following services:
- A competent center collects basic demographic information to ensure it has the following:
- The adequate ratio of staff to clients that address the race, ethnicity, and gender of the client population
- Client performance data to determine outcomes
- Client demographics that reflect the composition of the service area
- Culturally competent leaders who represent diverse community populations – leaders should believe cultural competence is needed to achieve quality outcomes
- Services and programs that address client cultural needs and are offered in a language that ensures client comprehension
- Regular monitoring to ensure client services are clinically and culturally appropriate
- Supervision of clinicians to ensure staff members address cultural aspects of care
- Culturally appropriate referrals to ensure cultural sensitivity at all stages of care
- Human resource development that allows staff training and offers development in cultural competence across all levels and for all leadership and staff
- Quality monitoring to evaluate services to ensure they provide access to all types of clients and promote client retention and engagement
Federal and State Laws and Insurance Benefits
Mental health and substance use disorders receive more federal attention than ever due to growing awareness about the effectiveness of treatments. Several federal laws including the widely debated Affordable Care Act mandate greater mental health coverage. Health plans that already covered mental health benefits expanded coverage in recent years according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). In 2008 the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act required more equality between mental health benefits and physical health benefits. Also, 2010’s Affordable Care Act included even more provisions to increase mental health coverage and affordability.
Currently, all states require some sort of mental health benefits although the type of coverage varies drastically. More than half of all states mandate that health plans offer treatment for drug or alcohol addictions according to the NCSL.
Need Help Finding Culturally Relevant Addiction Treatment
Addiction treatment must take into account the whole person mentally, physically, and spiritually. When addiction treatment clinicians and other staff members work to be culturally fluent, they offer a high level of care that reaches a person on all levels. Since communication is such a crucial part of addiction treatment, it’s important that a person struggling with addiction knows his or her cultural heritage is a big part of his or her story.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, please call our toll-free helpline. Our addiction coordinators are trained to offer advice and provide guidance about the best possible treatment options. We help people overcome addictions with a philosophy that addresses the whole person including unique cultural needs. Call our toll-free helpline 24 hours a day for advice. Don’t struggle alone. Call us today.