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Resilience to substance use problems strong in high-risk community

October 18, 2017
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Clinicians who work with individuals in high-risk urban communities should not assume that these residents lack the resilience to succeed in treatment or to avoid substance use disorders altogether. A study published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Public Health suggests a substantial prevalence of resilience factors such as employment, education and emotional support in minority neighborhoods.

Focusing on a group of 3,000 African-American and Latino adults in an urban community with high rates of poverty, researchers at New York University's Meyers College of Nursing found that a healthy number of participants had strong protective factors even though their community was beset by problems such as homelessness and other risk factors for substance use problems.

When the study participants, who were volunteered for the study by peers, were categorized into risk groups, 38% of men and 27% of women were placed in the lowest-risk group. This group was characterized by substance abuse risk comparable to that seen in the general U.S. population, the researchers said.

On the other end of the risk spectrum, “We need more effective interventions, with approaches tailored to individual risk and resilience,” said Charles Cleland, the study's lead author from the Meyers School's Center for Drug Use and HIV Research. “Women and men in the highest-risk group may benefit from specialized outreach efforts and wraparound clinical services, particularly because they lack emotional and instrumental support.”