Intensive outpatient programs play key roles in their communities, equipping individuals with the skills they need to overcome their addictions and align their lives according to their goals and aspirations. However, not all IOPs are organized with racial and ethnic minorities in mind.
The cultural diversity in Washington, D.C. is part of what makes this area great, and the best outpatient programs will embrace this aspect of our community.
Let’s explore the intersection of cultural diversity and addiction treatment in the nation’s capital and how intensive outpatient programs in DC prioritize cultural competence, providing a sensitive and inclusive approach to individuals from diverse backgrounds.
Why Cultural Competence Matters
The term “cultural competence” refers to the ability to reflect on one’s culture and how it interacts with the culture and identity of others. Cultural competence is critical in intensive outpatient programs, allowing staff to meet visitors on equal footing that is free from bias and maintains an openness toward learning and growing together.
Without cultural competence, intensive outpatient programs may offer solutions that are not a good fit for their guests, or they may exacerbate negative experiences through terminology, attitudes, beliefs, and recommendations that do not align with the identities of the people they seek to help.
The Statistics on Race and Addiction
Studies have repeatedly shown that certain ethnicities are more likely to be affected by substance abuse challenges. The reasons for this are manifold and often stem from systemic factors, with Native Americans and Alaskan Natives facing the highest rates.
As many as 10% of people in this demographic meet the qualifications for substance addiction. African American individuals and Asians/Native Hawaiians are also disproportionately affected, at 8% and 5%, respectively.
Achieving Cultural Competence in Intensive Outpatient Programs
Intensive outpatient programs that take cultural competence seriously begin with a diverse staff so that anyone who visits can see that others like them are part of their community.
However, simply committing to diversity is not sufficient to adequately address the needs of the multicultural clientele who rely on IOPs in DC. These programs must embrace additional initiatives in order to be successful.
The best intensive outpatient programs will facilitate cultural openness from the moment their clients begin to engage with the practice. This can be achieved by offering surveys and other intake information that is inclusive of a wide range of cultures and situations, such as adoption, multicultural families, and more.
Allowing patients to self-identify in a manner that is accurate and consistent with their lived experience is empowering and enables providers to offer more detailed and effective strategies.
Consulting with Others
Not every professional who works in an intensive outpatient program will have the cultural knowledge or experience necessary to connect with every person.
In these cases, good programs will see their staff consult with others across a diverse range of ethnic and social backgrounds to bolster their knowledge or make referrals to others more equipped to help certain patients better.
Those working with the visitors to an IOP must be open to a consistent process of self-reflection. For example, the cultural identity of a transracially adopted individual may impact how they approach treatment, and making comments such as how “grateful” they are to have been adopted by their family may do more harm than good.
Statements such as these presume a bias that adoption is a favorable outcome for a child, and such assessments can widen the gap between patients and providers. Dismantling inherent bias is an ongoing process and must be conducted consistently.
Providing Services in the First Language
Any intensive outpatient program that seeks to address the needs of its multicultural community must be prepared to offer services in the primary language of its clients.
Those who must navigate a language barrier in addition to the hardships of addiction and substance treatment are disproportionately challenged by the process and are not set up for success. Washington, D.C.’s best IOPs will offer professional services in a wide variety of languages to accommodate client needs.
Seek a Culturally Informed IOP in Washington, D.C.
If you are considering an intensive outpatient program in Washington, D.C., be sure to select one that emphasizes cultural competence. By collaborating with attentive professionals who consistently engage in self-reflection and seek to dismantle biases in treatment, the outcome of substance and addiction treatment can improve.
The experts at Aquila Recovery Clinic offer both individual and group sessions that can help you maintain your cultural and community connections throughout your treatment. Contact Aquila Recovery Clinic to schedule an appointment to discuss the options that may work best for you or a loved one.