Sundays With Omar – Cultural Competence and Recovery
One of the distinctive features of the recovery advocacy movement is its commitment to transcend the historical barriers that have separated people within the United States and across the world…
from The Selected Papers of William L. White
by Bill White, Angelo Lagares & Gaynelle Gosselin
I feel like my affinity for the above article is a little self serving. I’ve been a student and advocate of cultural competence since as long as my memory serves me. I find the rich tapestry of the world’s civilizations to be inspiring in a way that I struggle to describe.
Every Culture is worthy of admiration…
Every world culture is worthy of admiration. Because if they’ve all survived to this point, there is something strong, resilient, and generous in their very nature . . . And civilizations that did not embrace these virtues, have certainly died out since the dawn of our species.
But what does that have to do with addictions and recovery? Well, these conditions are part of the human condition. And to speak of humanity is to speak of diversity. The subject that jumped out at me from William White’s introduction, and the article by Angelo Lagares and Gaynelle Gosselin, was that “language matters.” Of course, that has to do with the language of origin. But, it also has to do with our mindset, and our emotions, which are as diverse as any other aspect of our existence.
We are all minorities of something. We may have a disability. Or be of a particular religion, or be short or tall, have a particular sexual identity or preference. If we search long enough, we’ll find a place where we can identify for the downtrodden. This, too, is true of individuals who deal with substance use.
By failing to include diversity in our messaging and our messengers, we are leaving out racial and ethnic minorities. While it is doubtful that this is intentional, the outcome is the same. The recovery movement is exacerbating already existing disparities in treatment. This needs to change if we are to have a unified front in creating positive norms with regard to addiction, treatment, and recovery… Angelo Lagares, Founder Latino Recovery Advocates & Gaynelle Gosselin, Parent Advocate
The words we use…
The words we use to reach out to individuals who have found themselves involved in the cycles of addiction can have a tremendous impact. We ask individuals who are in treatment to believe in themselves. And to trust that if they can reach a personal level of sobriety where they can feel the love, they will have all the more reason to want to stay sober.
But if we deliver this message with harsh tones, or with superiority then our encouragement can fall on deaf or defensive ears. It has always been striking to me that “the golden rule” is universal across all of the world’s largest faith traditions. To have cultural competence is to endeavor to love universally. And I am hard pressed to find a better model of support for our friends and neighbors who are seeking addictions help.