U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Moving the Latina Substance Abuser Toward Treatment: The Role of Gender and Culture

NCJ Number
Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse Volume: 1 Issue: 3 Dated: 2002 Pages: 3-16
Barbara L. Kail D.S.W; Maryann Elberth Ph.D.
Date Published
14 pages
This study examined how gender and culture shape the experiences of the Latina substance abuser in her journey to treatment.
The study analyzed data from 6 focus groups and interviews with 37 women in a therapeutic community. The focus of the data collection was on the process through which the women sought assistance for their drug abuse. Themes that emerged from the qualitative analysis indicate that both gender and culture influenced the Latina substance abusers' experiences in ways that isolated them and made it more difficult for them to recognize their drug abuse as problematic. Gender provided the Latina substance abuser with what she perceived to be relatively easy access to money and drugs while isolating her from conventional networks that might appraise her drug use negatively. Cultural expectations regarding social interactions may preclude family and friends from confronting her and providing support that will encourage treatment. The drug problem may thus not be identified or addressed until the Latina substance abuser encounters the criminal justice system, through which drug treatment may be mandated. Negotiating access to a particular treatment program was also apparently influenced by the Latinas' gender and culture. Almost all of the women accessed treatment through a formal referral source (e.g., child welfare and criminal justice), but Latinas apparently were less likely to come to treatment through hospitals or short-term drug detox. Active approaches by the referral agents and treatment providers were found to be crucial in overcoming structural barriers to securing a treatment slot and negotiating access. Increasing treatment formats that are sensitive to gender and culture would do much to help overcome structural barriers to accessibility for Latina drug abusers. Suggestions are offered for future research. 25 references


No download available