Addiction treatment for Latinos

Latinos are slightly more likely than other ethnic groups to have a substance abuse problem. What needs to be done, so more Latinos would seek or remain in substance abuse treatment? We review here.

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Latinos and addiction treatment

Latinos are one of the fastest growing ethnic populations in the U.S. They are also just as likely or slightly more likely than other ethnic groups to have a substance abuse problem. Unfortunately, they may also be slightly less likely to seek or remain in substance abuse treatment than other minorities, due to a number of cultural barriers.

For Latinos and addiction treatment, it has been found that certain services offered during treatment may have an effect on the overall effectiveness of treatment. Some of these services are listed below.

  1. Spanish speaking addiction specialists, counselors may be needed by some Latinos, specifically those who speak little to no English.
  2. Payment assistance programs can help low-income Latinos pay for the treatment that they need.
  3. Vocational and educational services during treatment can make it easier for Latinos to learn skills which will help them become more self-sufficient and less likely to turn to drugs or alcohol.
  4. Cultural and societal aspects of the Latino demographic should also be incorporated into Latino addiction treatment, as this will make them more comfortable and more likely to complete treatment.

Latino drug addiction treatment

Like the vast majority of addiction treatment programs, Latino addiction treatment typically consists of a few basic – yet very important – steps.

Evaluation and assessment

All Latinos will undergo an evaluation before they begin an addiction treatment program. During this evaluation, as addiction specialist will assess their need for addiction treatment. This is usually based on the type and severity of their addiction, as well as the presence of any underlying mental health problems. A Latino’s family, school, or career obligations may also be taken into consideration when creating an addiction care plan.


The detoxification or detox step is often a difficult one, but it should not be skipped. The majority of Latino drug addiction programs require new clients to be clean and sober before they can enter the programs. This often requires a person to spend several days or even weeks going through withdrawal as their body rids itself of any remaining substances. To help speed this process and alleviate some of the withdrawal symptoms, Latinos are often encouraged to enter a dedicated detox facility.


Latino drug addiction treatment often consists of many simultaneous aspects, including individual behavior therapy, group counseling, and pharmacotherapy approaches. Since Latinos are a very family-oriented group, family therapy should also play a large role in Latino drug addiction treatment.


Continuing on with one’s life after completing a drug addiction treatment program can be difficult. Once a Latino has completed drug addiction treatment, they will usually be required to follow an aftercare program, which can greatly decrease the chances of a relapse. Aftercare for Latinos often includes continuing outpatient therapy sessions and may also include a stay in a halfway house until they are emotionally and financially ready to strike out on their own.

Latino addiction treatment barriers

There are several obstacles that can get in the way of a Latino seeking or staying in addiction treatment. Overcoming these obstacles may be difficult, but it’s essential for any Latino who is truly ready to lead a clean and sober life.

Common Latino addiction treatment barriers often include

  • Language barriers
  • Cultural views of addiction treatment
  • Financial difficulties
  • Lack of health insurance
  • Family responsibilities
  • Shame or stigma surrounding addiction or addiction treatment

Addicted Latinos

Even addicted Latinos who are ready to enter addiction treatment may not know where to start. Fortunately, there is a great deal of help available to anyone looking for addiction treatment services.

Addicted Latinos should first speak to their doctors, as medical professionals can often refer them to a suitable treatment facility. Latinos who do not have primary physicians can contact a local hospital or clinic as well.

Contacting treatment facilities directly is another way for addicted Latinos to determine whether they might offer the services that they need. A list of local addiction treatment facilities can be found using the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s facility locator. After a location has been entered into the locator, users can also narrow down search results by clicking “Select Services”. For instance, Latinos can search for facilities that are offer services such as payment assistance, or for those where Spanish is spoken.

Latino addiction questions

Finding and choosing a Latino addiction treatment program doesn’t have to be impossible. It can, however, be a stressful and confusing time. If you or a loved one is looking for more information on Latino addiction or Latino addiction treatment, feel free to leave your questions and concerns in the comments section below. We look forward to having the opportunity to help all of our readers head in the right direction.

Reference Sources: SAMHSA: Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator
ASU: Solutions for Latino Drug Abuse
NCBI: Substance Abuse Prevalence and Treatment Among Latinos and Latinas
SAMHSA: Drug Abuse among Hispanic
SAMHSA: Behavioral Health and Hispanic/Latinos
SAMHSA: Hispanics & Treatment Need
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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