The Culture of Recovery
Just as people who are actively using or abusing substances bond over that common experience to create a drug culture that supports their continued substance use, people in recovery can participate in activities with others who are having similar experiences to build a culture of recovery. There is no single drug culture; and there is no single culture of recovery. However, organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) do represent the culture of recovery for many individuals. Even within such organizations, though, there is some cultural diversity; regional differences exist, for example, in meeting-related rituals or attitudes toward certain issues (e.g., use of prescribed psychotropic medication, approaches to spirituality).
Most treatment programs try to foster a culture of recovery for their clients. Most providers also recognize that clients need to replace the activities, beliefs, people, places, and things associated with substance abuse with new recovery-related associations—the central purpose of creating a culture of recovery.
Peer support specialists act as important ambassadors for the culture of recovery. One of your important roles is to assist your clients who desire to do so to switch their cultural identity from being a member of a drug culture to being a member in a culture of recovery. Your role modeling can serve as a powerful example of the positive benefits of being part of a recovery culture.
Being culturally competent is an important way for you to respect many of your client’s basic rights. Because a person’s culture affects their thinking, their feelings and their behaviors, culture is always a factor in the treatment and recovery process. A client’s right to respect and dignity and to self-determination are particularly affected by the client’s cultural “sense of self”. Other rights, such as informed consent and confidentiality are also affected by language and culture.
Action Points – Cultural Competence
- The Peer Support Specialist should be aware of the impact that culture has on each client and be prepared to treat persons from any culture with dignity and respect.
- The Peer Support Specialist must understand that culture includes more than the obvious things such as race, gender and age. Some cultural characteristics are readily apparent, while others are more hidden or subtle.
- Peer Support Specialists should be aware of their own cultural “sense of self,” and of any biases that they may harbor about persons from cultures different from their own.
- Cultural competence is “a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes and policies that come together in a system, agency or among professionals and enables that system, agency or those professionals to work effectively in cross-cultural situations.”-
- Peer Support Specialists act as ambassadors for the culture of recovery and help their clients to develop a sense of belonging to this culture.
Module 7 Activity: Cultural Competence
Instructions: Click the box below to complete Module 7 Activity: Cultural Competence