Summary and Analysis

This new study from the University of Kentucky Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment provides insight into an aspect of treatment that is not well reported on—the experiences of Black people in drug treatment. The study was conducted in Kentucky where opioid-related deaths recently more than doubled among the Black population. Thirty-nine Black men and women who had used opioids within the past six months spoke to the research team about their experiences. Researchers found three primary themes influenced participants’ perceptions about substance use treatment, centering on:

  • readiness for change (influenced by whether the treatment was mandated by an external entity such as the legal/justice system, or individuals were able to decide for themselves they were ready for help);
  • provider characteristics (race, gender, the provider’s personal substance use history, as well as their ability to build rapport, maintain confidentiality, and seem motivated to help); and
  • relational support (people in participants’ lives, such as partners and family members).

This study underscores the necessity to recognize the unique needs of specific populations.

Excerpted from University of Kentucky Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment


With opioid overdose rates doubling in the state of Kentucky over the last year, the opioid crisis is having a deadly impact on the state. Among Black individuals in particular, overdose rates have increased by nearly a third. As such, we must examine ways to effectively intervene to reduce deaths among this underrepresented population.
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