Low Income Users Often Forced to Get off Drugs Without Treatment

Treatment facilities have been proven to be a successful option for those struggling with drugs and/or alcohol. Getting an addict away from their using environment, daily interactions with people who are no longer using and living in a therapeutic environment are all reasons why treatment centers are more effective at handling addiction than abstinence alone. However, research shows that many low-income addicts do not have access to effective treatment and are forced to rely on other alternatives to get clean. While it is encouraging that poorer people are able to find successful ways to get off drugs and/or alcohol, this does highlight a problem with access to care for all United States residents.

This revelation is important because it comes right after it was discovered that cocaine use is on the rise among poorer communities, as well as methamphetamine and opiates. While there is a significant part of the drug culture that has moved into middle class and wealthy neighborhoods, there is still a substantial threat among poorer communities. It appears that treatment centers are more likely to be able to service financially stable patients, rather than poorer patients. Oftentimes poorer patients have to rely on state-run facilities with long waiting lists. Those with private insurance are much more likely to enroll in treatment facilities that cater to wealthier clients.

In lieu of enrolling in a treatment center, lower income addicts have resorted to relying on sober relatives, church, and sober friends for the support needed to overcome an addiction. However, it is not clear how effective these methods are in the long term. While these addicts may be able to get over the initial addiction, they have not been given the tools to handle future stressors or cravings, which is a main focus in treatment centers.

“Recovery without treatment, also called natural recovery, is common and perhaps even more prevalent among ethnic and racial minorities than among Whites. Cocaine use varies along racial lines and social class and is increasingly a problem among African Americans in rural Arkansas,” explained Ann Cheney, an assistant professor in the department of social medicine and population health in the Center for Healthy Communities in the UC Riverside School of Medicine.