Alcohol Addiction Resources for Different Demographics and Populations

6 min read · 11 sections
Addiction, clinically referred to as a substance use disorder, affects people from all walks of life, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, cultural background, ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status, or any other factors. Therefore, no single treatment is appropriate for everyone. Effective treatment considers the personal characteristics of the individual.1 Thus, specific populations and groups of people—such as Veterans, women, people of different races and ethnicities, and the LGBTQIA+ community, to name a few—may benefit from specialized programs targeted to address their unique needs. Specialized treatment programs recognize this, with care options designed to make you feel understood and accepted as you work toward sobriety.
What you will learn:
How addiction affects certain populations
The resources and recovery options available to certain populations with alcohol use and mental health disorders, too

Who Alcohol Addiction Affects

Individuals in the United States use alcohol widely, and drinking is often perceived as normal behavior.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2021, 47.5% (or 133.1 million people aged 12 or older) drank alcohol within the past month of the survey in the United States.2 Additionally, over 10% (or 29.5 million individuals aged 12 or older) reported past-year alcohol use disorder (AUD).2 While not every individual who engages in some alcohol use in their lifetime develops an AUD, it is estimated that 30% of adults in the United States will.3 Certain factors—such as genetics, drinking at an early age, exposure to a parent’s misuse of alcohol, and mental health conditions like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder—may increase an individual’s risk of developing an AUD. Some populations may be more susceptible to problem alcohol use than others.

The LGBTQIA+ Community

For many in the LGBTQIA+ community, poor cultural and/or socioeconomic conditions negatively impact their mental health, and research indicates that adults who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual are nearly twice as likely as heterosexual adults to experience a substance use disorder, and transgender individuals are nearly 4 times as likely to have a substance use disorder compared to their cisgender counterparts.4,5

To put it into perspective, in 2020, 63.8% of lesbian, gay, or bisexual individuals aged 18 or older had an AUD. That’s 3.5 million people. Additionally, 3.9 million gay, lesbian, or bisexual adults aged 18 or older had a co-occurring substance use and mental health disorder.6

Resources for Members of the LGBTQIA+ Community with Alcohol Misuse Problems

The number of specialized treatment programs and LGBTQIA+-specific treatment centers across the nation is rising. These programs provide a safe and supportive space for members of the LGBTQIA+ community to heal and recover.

Many of our American Addiction Centers (AAC) facilities offer a designated LGBTQIA+ addiction recovery program to address the unique experiences and challenges this group of individuals face. Some of the topics covered in our LGBTQIA+ treatment track include healthy relationships, identity awareness, coping with negative stigmas, family dynamics, and support for family members of LGBTQIA+ individuals.

Additional resources include:

Partnership to End Addiction’s LGBTQ+, Family, and Substance Use. Parents can find free resources to help them locate a LGBTQ+-friendly treatment, what to consider in terms of medication, and more.

The Family Acceptance Project. This site provides resources for LGBTQ+ youth and their families nationwide in an effort to decrease mental health risks and promote well-being.

The Trevor Project. Crisis counselors answer calls, chats, or texts from LGBTQ+ young people, who are struggling with issues related to depression, suicide, or something else, and need free confidential and secure support 24/7.

Native Americans

There are several factors that affect American Indians and Alaska Native communities, which can increase their risk of developing alcohol addiction. Some of the major risk factors that these communities face include historical trauma, lack of easy access to healthcare, lower educational attainment, poverty, housing problems, unemployment, violence, loss of connection to culture, and mental health issues.7

Mental health illnesses, particularly anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are more common among American Indians and Alaska Natives than other Americans.7 Additionally, American Indian and Alaska Native communities disproportionately struggle with suicide compared to other Americans. Suicide rates for Alaska Natives more than double those for the entire U.S. population.7

Furthermore, binge drinking and alcohol use disorder occur among American Indians and Alaska Natives at relatively high rates.7

Research indicates that maintaining ties to one’s culture can help treat co-occurring substance use and the mental health disorders.7 Additionally, accounting for disparities in resources and barriers to proper healthcare provides efficient addiction and co-occurring disorder treatment for these communities.8

Resources for Native Americans with Alcohol Misuse Problems

Some facilities offer specialty programming for American Indians and Alaska Natives that focus on balance, harmony, and interconnectedness that contributes to these communities’ spirituality and makes up part of their spiritual needs.7 Studies suggest that treatments that incorporate American Indians’ and Alaska Natives’ traditional methods of healing with other modified forms of therapy are most successful.9 For instance, motivational interviewing, a counseling method used to increase motivation toward making positive changes and building self-confidence, has been effective in the treatment of some American Indian and Alaska Native individuals when cultural adaptations are made. These include social interactions that involve a spiritual aspect and a reliance on spirituality, extended family, and tribe or clan relations as motivational factors.9

The Indian Health Service (IHS), a federal health program for American Indians and Alaska Natives, helps members of this community find behavioral health facilities near them.

The IHS’ Alcohol and Substance Abuse Branch (ASAB) implements alcohol programs within tribal communities, including inpatient and outpatient rehab in rural and urban settings. You can also explore treatment options that accept IHS funding using their treatment locator.

IHS’ Telehealth Behavioral Health Center of Excellence provides direct, ongoing care via televideo to patients at HIS/Tribal/Urban Indian-operated facilities. Services include addictions psychiatry; adult therapy and psychiatry; family, couples, and group therapy; and trauma, PTSD therapy.

African Americans and Afro-Caribbean Americans

According to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 21% of Black and African Americans reported having a mental illness, but only 39% of them received any sort of mental health services.10 Additionally, just over 10% of Black adult Americans aged 12 or older had an alcohol use disorder that year.2

Nearly 4 in 10 U.S. Black adults reported at least one perceived racial discrimination in their lifetime. Among these individuals, lifetime patterns of substance use were also common. One study of a large, nationally representative example of African American and Afro-Caribbean Americans found that participants who experienced perceived racial discrimination had higher odds of both individual and lifetime polysubstance use than those who did not experience perceived racial discrimination.11

Furthermore, while suicide rates decreased in the United States in 2020, suicide was the third leading cause of death among African Americans between the ages of 10 and 24 and African American men between the ages of 25 and 34.10

Resources for African Americans and Afro-Caribbean Americans with Alcohol Misuse Problems

Unfortunately, young African American adults are less likely than other young adults to receive treatment for substance use disorder treatment. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recommends that in order to get more young Black people into treatment, programs must be located in a convenient and safe place, should include trauma-informed care, and be staffed with individuals who represent the population served, among other things. Programs centered around providing a space where African Americans feel accepted and understood are vital.12

All of AAC’s facilities offer trauma-based therapies, which help address the underlying issues that contribute to substance misuse and addiction.

There are several resources for African Americans and Afro-Caribbeans that focus on behavioral health. These resources include:

The African American Behavioral Health Center of Excellence. This new resource, funded by SAMHSA, aims to transform behavioral health services for African Americans, making it more accessible, more inclusive, more culturally appropriate, and more responsive. There are lots of resources available including free webinars, articles, guides, and essays. You can sign up for the newsletter to get the most up-to-date information.

Black Mental Health Alliance. This organization provides workshops and forums and referral services that support the mental health and well-being of Black people and their communities.

Lee Thompson Young Foundation. This organization focuses on mental health education in African American communities.

Brother, You’re on My Mind. An organization born from the partnership between the Omega Phi Psi Fraternity, Inc. and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities that focuses on changing the national dialogue surrounding mental health among African American men. You can download their free toolkit from the website.

Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders

In 2021, 8% of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) had an alcohol use disorder in the past year. That’s the lowest rate when compared to other ethnic groups. Additionally, among Americans aged 12 or older, Asian individuals were less likely to use alcohol, binge drink, or heavily drink in the past month, compared to other ethnic groups. 2

However, because of these lower rates, alcohol use disorder—and other mental health disorders—are often hidden from family and friends, which can be a barrier to treatment. In fact, data shows that less than 1% of all individuals who admit to a substance use treatment center identify themselves as AAPI.13

Resources for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders with Alcohol Misuse Problems

Some specialized treatment programs are available to accommodate the unique needs of the AAPI community, including:

The National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association (NAAPIMHA). Dedicated to the promotion of the mental health and well-being of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities, NAAPIMHA provides a list of mental health and behavioral health service providers for AAPI individuals in all 50 states.

The National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse (NAPAFASA). This nonprofit organization strives to prevent and reduce substance use disorder among Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islander communities by presenting educational materials; promoting recovery, cessation, and harm reduction programs; and advocating for improved language access; among other initiatives.

Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations. This organization provides a mental health and substance use resource guide for Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

Pregnant Individuals

Pregnant women struggling with alcohol addiction can face unique challenges and barriers to treatment. Using alcohol during pregnancy isn’t recommended and can cause damaging effects to the fetus, like stillbirth, impaired growth, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.19

Lack of awareness and coping with adverse life effects can contribute to drinking while pregnant.20 Although not recommended, almost half of women in the U.S. consume alcohol during pregnancy.19 A global study of alcohol use during pregnancy from 1984 to 2014 found 53.6% of women in the U.S. age 18 to 44 used alcohol, with 18.2% participating in binge drinking.19 Of pregnant women, 10.2% used alcohol, and 1 in 10 reported use in the past 30 days.19

Resources for Pregnant People with Alcohol Misuse Problems

Pregnant women in recovery often have unique treatment needs, like specialized counseling and access to medical support during detox. Unique treatment programs for women and alcohol provide a safe, caring environment that focuses on the needs of pregnant women struggling with addiction. Many programs use trauma-informed approaches, incorporating essential elements like cultural competency, family, and appropriate medications.21

Several facilities, including our AAC treatment centers, are accessible to pregnant and postpartum women, with inpatient and outpatient care.22 The APA Women’s Programs Office also offers an extensive list of treatment centers and resources.22 You can explore treatment centers in major cities and other resources offering assistance for pregnant women fighting alcohol addiction. For example, Postpartum Support International (PSI) connects you to local providers and groups that can give encouragement, information, tips, and referrals to help you find a treatment program.22

Older Adults

Alcohol addiction among older adults often isn’t diagnosed or is underreported.23 Yet, older adults with SUDs are more likely to misuse alcohol than any other substance.24 Alcohol use and misuse can be particularly dangerous for older adults, especially those who drink heavily, have health problems, or take certain medications.25

In 2021, nearly 20% of adults between the ages of 60 and 64 and about 11% of those age 65 reported current binge drinking.25 Some older people develop AUD over time from prolonged alcohol use, while others become addicted to alcohol by trying to cope with major life changes like the death of a spouse, depression, chronic pain, or loneliness.26

Resources for Older Adults with Alcohol Misuse Problems

Specialized treatment programs can offer older adults a sense of community while feeling supported in recovery. Providers and professionals often have challenges diagnosing older adults with SUD because other factors associated with aging, like memory loss, can make addiction symptoms harder to recognize.24

Specialized treatment programs consider challenges like these by acknowledging and respecting differences in older people, creating an accessible treatment environment, and developing an age-sensitive workforce.24 A community atmosphere is also vital for older adults in recovery.24

Many tools and resources for older adults with AUD are also available. For example, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) encourage older people to seek treatment by sharing the recovery stories of people who recovered from alcohol addiction after age 60 in the organization’s Older Alcoholic – Never Too Late program. SAMHSA also shares several resources for different mental health services for older adults.

Veterans

The Veteran experience is much different from an everyday civilian. Veterans often endure traumatic events that can influence alcohol addiction, like combat, grief, and loss. Many military members also see alcohol use as a part of their culture.27

In 2018, the Health Related Behaviors Survey (HRBS) found almost 10% of military personnel across all branches were heavy drinkers.28 Another study showed that more than 65% of Veterans primarily reported alcohol as their substance of misuse, almost double that of the general population.29 According to Veterans Affairs (VA), 1 out of 10 deployed Veterans in Iraq and Afghanistan were diagnosed with alcohol or drug misuse.30

Resources for Veterans with Alcohol Misuse Problems

The unique experiences of Veterans can play a significant role in choosing addiction treatment. Specialized programs for Veterans and alcohol provide spaces for camaraderie and healing. Some AAC facilities offer specialized Veteran care through The Salute to Recovery Program. The Salute to Recovery Program helps military personnel recover with evidence-based treatments and a support system they can confide in. Addiction specialists who acknowledge the impact of PTSD on addiction and recovery provide individualized services to best meet your needs.

The VA also has several resources and financial assistance for Veterans seeking alcohol addiction treatment like medical detox, therapy, and co-occurring disorder treatment.31

The Homeless

Typically, people who are homeless experience unique challenges that can contribute to AUD, including poverty, food insecurity, and stress.32 Alcohol use can also initiate homelessness for many people.32 Studies show higher levels of AUD in homeless populations, with about 60% reporting AUD in their lifetime and nearly 40% reporting past-year AUD.32 Having an AUD disorder is associated with becoming and remaining homeless for many.32

Resources for Homeless Individuals with Alcohol Misuse Problems

Specialized treatment programs support the homeless, often providing many resources they lack. Some facilities care for homeless people with addiction while in recovery through inpatient rehabs or outpatient programs with housing assistance services. After completing a program, aftercare services, like sober housing, can help you get back on your feet while staying sober.

SAMHSA offers programs, grants, and scholarships that give financial assistance and connect homeless people to free programming.33 People who are homeless have direct access to resources and services to provide shelter, housing counselors, emergency assistance, food assistance, and other care.33 Services for homeless youth are also available in some states, including the Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH).33

Individuals Living in Rural Communities

People in rural communities often face a lack of resources because of their geographic location. 34 Factors like the normalcy and availability of alcohol, poverty, and demographics can all influence drinking behaviors among rural people.34 Researchers experience challenges when comparing rates of AUD in rural communities to urban communities due to the different ways rural populations are defined.34

Although there’s a lack of current data, the 2001 to 2002 NESARC found rural drinkers were significantly more likely to exceed daily recommended drinking limits (around 40%) and report past-year AUD (roughly 16.7%) compared to suburban and urban drinkers.34

Resources for Individuals Living in Rural Areas with Alcohol Misuse Problems

People in rural areas can also access specialized treatment options tailored toward families and children. For example, the Arizona Families in Recovery Succeeding Together (FIRST) aims to treat parents with children in the welfare system. This program connects parents to SUD treatment providers with other services like transportation and relapse management.35

Rural communities may have less specialized addiction treatment options, but there are many resources to increase availability. Many organizations like AmeriCorps, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), and State Justice Institute (SJI) offer grants and funding to improve access to quality treatment in rural areas.36 Others, like the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), provide training to help providers and professionals better serve people in rural communities with alcohol addiction.36

Finding Resources in Your Area

You can find treatment resources in your area in many ways. Searching on your local government website is a great start. Many states have lists of resources and treatment centers that serve your community. You can also use rehab directories to find treatment, like SAMHSA’s treatment locator. This tool helps you filter your search for categories, such as location, facility type, treatment approaches, and payment accepted.

It’s helpful to search online for addiction services related to your population to find specific treatment or resources. American Addiction Centers can help you find a suitable rehab, no matter your situation. Contact us today to speak with an admissions navigator who can connect you with different resources and guide you through starting your recovery journey.

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