Despite interventions, cocaine abuse still increased significantly especially among African Americans and other minorities in low-income, resource-poor communities. However, according to a study published on April 20, making lifestyle changes and improving social relationships are still key to solving the problem that destroys lives.

The research team, led by a medical anthropologist at the University of California, Riverside, adds that employment and access to stable housing which allows these people to live normal lives are some of the best ways to reduce cocaine abuse. Moreover, their analysis on 51 African American cocaine users of ages 18 to 61 in the US reveals that the desire to be better parents to their kids, being tired of the drug lifestyle and possible jail time are also good motivators to stop the habit.

Having access to substance abuse treatment programmes and self-help group or simply having abstinence-supporting networks, which helps the abusers outside of rehab, improve cocaine abusers’ lives. Unsurprisingly, religion, going to church and participating in leisure-time activities are also crucial to reduce cocaine abuse.

cocaine abuse

A woman smoking crack cocaine. Credit: Wikimedia/Alexis Barrera (Al Bar)

Lead researcher Ann Cheney says that the aforementioned approaches can still initiate and maintain cocaine abuse recovery even without undergoing formal treatment. The researcher cites that these are good alternatives to formal treatment programmes especially to those African Americans living in rural places who are usually confronted with personal, cultural and structural challenges that prevent their access to these programmes.

“Interventions that are culturally appropriate and feasible within their resource-poor communities are needed,” adds Cheney. “While accessing resources in faith communities is normative among African Americans in the South, other minority or underserved populations may hold different values and find valued resources within other social spaces.”

Cheney is currently continuing her investigation into the influence of an individual’s social networks on substance abuse outcome and recovery. The researcher plans to conduct further studies focusing on the association of substance abuse risk and social networks among Latinos in southern California.