Sept. 10, 2021 – Addiction specialist Edwin Chapman has made it his life’s work to fight the drug epidemic in the Black community. He says that drug addiction in these communities has always been treated differently. “Whether it’s racism or cultural incompetence, we need to correct that,” he says.

NPR profiled Dr. Chapman’s work in 2018 as the opioid crisis began to surge in urban, Black communities across the country.

Chapman knows too well the problems faced by the African American population when it comes to drug addiction and treatment, “beginning with the fact that our epidemic was ignored for the most part, followed by insurance barriers and access to treatment,” he says.

“Our population was always treated as a moral, criminal problem, which means that the patients that we’re treating in the African American community have that added burden,” he says. 

From his experience in his clinic, he says he has found it is more complex to treat Black patients, because additional resources, such as help navigating the health care system, counseling and help finding housing or a job, are needed.

Chapman says Black communities also have a “provider access problem.” He notes that relatively few addiction treatment specialists focus their practice on treating Black patients. “Then there is the stigma within the provider community about treating these patients because they’re always perceived as being criminally inclined or not desirable as a patient,” he says.


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