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Effects of Racism on AddictionRacism and substance abuse, Tennessee residents might be interested to learn, are connected in at least two unique ways. People of color, including Latinos and African-Americans, face more arrests for drug violations each year than their white counterparts. Another connection between these two problems is that victims of racism may internalize their trauma and turn to drug abuse for relief.

Racism’s Presence in the War on Drugs

There are no drastic differences in the rates of drug use and selling among the various races in the United States. Even so, Latinos and African-Americans are much more likely than whites to be stopped and searched by the police for drugs. This is mainly due to law enforcement’s focus on urban, lower income neighborhoods. As a result, there are disproportionately higher incarceration rates of people of color for drug violations in Tennessee and across the country.

Another reason for the higher incarceration rates of minorities is the sentencing disparity between the penalties for powder and crack cocaine. Crack cocaine, which is cheaper than powder cocaine, is more commonly used by African-Americans. The sentencing disparity was once 100:1, meaning that the possession of 5 grams of crack cocaine would result in 5 years in prison, while the possession of five hundred grams of powder cocaine would result in the same sentence. Due to the efforts of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), however, in 2010, the disparity was reduced to 18:1.

Racism causes many people of color who struggle with drug abuse problems to face incarceration instead of the opportunity to recover from their disease in drug addiction treatment. The DPA recognizes that the war on drugs mainly impacts minority drug users, who suffer the lifelong results of the stigmas created by a drug conviction. One of the DPA’s missions is to allow more people facing drug charges to have the opportunity to receive treatment instead of jail time. Tennessee residents should consider this effect in their community.

How Racism Perpetuates Addiction Problems

Racism causes a person to disconnect from reality and believe that other people are inherently different or have less value due to their race. Substance abuse problems also cause people to disconnect from reality, by believing that they are not harming themselves by misusing drugs.  Thus, the wrongful thinking that leads to racism is in some ways similar to the wrongful thinking that leads to self-harm and substance abuse. Tennessee residents who have been victims of racism may internalize their feelings and experiences and begin to hurt themselves, because others have hurt them. By using drugs or alcohol in a harmful, self-destructive way, victims of racism reenact their memories of being mistreated. This is usually done subconsciously and to the detriment of the person and his community.

Need Help Finding Drug Addiction Treatment Centers?

If you or someone you love in Tennessee is struggling with drug addiction, we can help. Please dial our toll free number today. We are available 24 hours a day to take your call and connect you to the professional drug addiction treatment you need. You can begin your journey to recovery today.