Full-court press –

July 22, 2020 – With her petition, Young Williams’ goal is to bring attention to the disparities in treatment for people of color fighting addiction and to fund the growing need. She says, “Substance abuse doesn’t discriminate by age, gender or race, so why is it that rehabs and treatment centers are seldomly black-owned and have little representation of people of color?”

Studies consistently show that minorities with opioid use disorders remain at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing appropriate treatment.

A 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that 6.9% of African Americans have a substance abuse disorder, a number that is just about equal to the 7.4% of the total population purported to suffer from addiction. 

Studies also show Caucasians are 35 times more likely to visit hospitals for buprenorphine, an opioid used to treat opioid use disorder, acute pain, and chronic pain, compared to their African American counterparts.

The American Psychological Association (APA) has said that within the past five years, “27 million Americans reported dependence or misuse of illicit or prescription drugs. Despite relatively uniform rates of substance abuse among racial and ethnic populations, members minority groups are most likely to experience barriers that impede their ability to access substance abuse treatment.”

Young Williams notes the most commonly cited reasons for the low hospital utilization by African Americans include lack of accessibility, insurance, and access to information – which are directly caused by systemic and structural discrimination within our healthcare system. “The lack of information regarding substance abuse treatment and recovery is alarming and consequently killing Black people,” she says. “Many members of our community have no idea of the resources readily accessed by their white counterparts.”

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