Perceptions of Opioid Addiction and MAT in a Spanish Speaking Latinx Population
Introduction: Stigma around substance use disorders is a major barrier to identifying and treating patients with addiction. Additionally, cultural and social factors could also contribute to a community’s bias and/or perception of opioid addiction and treatments for opioid addiction. The opioid epidemic is a crisis that has been identified as affecting many populations in the United States. Based on CDC data, the Latinx population accounts for 8% of overdose deaths nationally, and 19% of overdose deaths in Colorado. Little research has investigated perceptions and stigma around opioid addiction in Spanish speaking, Latinx populations. Understanding the differences around these perceptions of opioid addiction and MAT could potentially aid in targeting public health movements in a more culturally sensitive manner.
Methods: A survey from IT MATTRs Colorado was utilized for this study and translated to Spanish (n=126 Latinx community members). This survey assessed the level of knowledge around the addictive potential of prescription opioid medication, awareness of treatment options for opioid use disorder, medication assisted treatment, and perceptions of people who have an opioid use disorder. The surveys were distributed via venue based sampling to Spanish speaking Latinx community members at grocery stores, community centers and churches in the Denver metro area. The survey data was compared to data from IT MATTRs Colorado .
Results: Descriptive results from the survey illuminated some of the stigma and misinformation regarding opioid addiction in Latinx communities. For example, only 27.78% (n=35) of Spanish-speaking Latinx respondents indicated Medication Assisted Therapy as an option for treatment of opioid use disorder. Additionally, 52% (n=65) did not know if “there is a problem in my community with people using opioid pain medication to get high,” although 40% (n=45) indicated that heroin was a “somewhat serious” or “very serious” problem in their community. When asked stigma related questions, 64% (n=78) disagreed with the statement, “I would accept a person addicted to opioids to marry someone from my family.”
Conclusion: This data suggests that public health information about both the addictive potential of opioids as well as options for opioid use disorder treatment needs to be distributed in a way that is more accessible to Spanish speaking Latinx communities and possibly that physicians should be more culturally-informed about effective ways to provide preventative health information regarding addiction to Spanish-speaking Latinx people. There appears to a lack of education around the addictive properties in Spanish speaking populations, and an area for improvement in the future.
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Brenes, F., Henriquez, F. 2019. Hispanics, Addiction, and the Opioid Epidemic: Brief Report. Hispanic Healthcare International.
Lippold, KM, Jones, CM, Olsen, EO, Giroir, BP. 2019. Racial/Ethnic and Age Group Differences in Opioid and Synthetic Opioid–Involved Overdose Deaths Among Adults Aged ≥18 Years in Metropolitan Areas — United States, 2015–2017. Weekly. 68 (43): 967-973