Addiction Recovery
By BrightView
Published: March 24, 2023
Updated: September 11, 2023

Improving Treatment Access and Recovery Outcomes for Black Americans is Critical


The impact of substance and alcohol use disorders on Black Americans is a complex issue. Research shows long-held stereotypes about race and addiction impact access to treatment and patient outcomes. Understanding these differences requires an examination of racial inequity, inequality, and racism.

BrightView has been reviewing research and establishing best practices to understand the issue better and ensure a cultural lens is applied to patient intake to create a holistic view of the patient. The addiction treatment provider also held a virtual forum on the topic.
Jacole Spriggs, BrightView Health’s Chief Nursing Officer, and Brandon Elliott RN, BrightView’s Outreach Territory Director for Ohio, recently discussed the topic with members of the behavioral health community.


The Role of the War on Drugs in Black Americans Recovery Issue

The discussion began with a look at drug usage trends impacting Black Americans. This includes the War on Drugs and the resulting mass incarceration of Black Americans. The speakers also shared their own stories to help illustrate this issue. In this clip, Jacole Spriggs discusses unique challenges for Black American men.

Why Black Americans Aren’t Seeking Treatment

In this clip, Jacole Spriggs and Brandon Elliott share their experiences regarding why Black Americans do not typically prioritize their health through screenings, regular well checks, and other preventative measures.

First Patient Interaction is Critical to Improving Care

Better serving Black Americans starts with the first patient interaction. This determines whether a Black American patient returns for a second day of treatment. Keep the following tips in mind.

  • Be Present: It’s less about the questions you ask and more about your presence; truly listen to them.
  • Talk With Patients, Not At Them: It doesn’t matter what you say; if you’re talking at the patient, you will not have a positive impact.
  • Consider Non-Verbal Communication: Be aware of your non-verbal cues and consider the patient’s body language to read the room better.


Whether or not a patient returns for a second day of treatment depends on their first interaction with a service provider.

It’s also important to have a diverse staff. An inclusive team ensures patients are seen by people who reflect their identity. This all creates a foundation for building trust with the patient. If you can establish the patient’s trust, you can affect the trajectory of their life.


Creating Community Awareness is Key

Every community is unique. For significant progress, we must look beyond a program’s four walls to educate and raise awareness based on our understanding of the populations in which we operate. Consider the following to make a long-term impact on this issue.

  • Connect with Resources: Community-based organizations are the engines that manage crises before patients get to the hospital. Develop more diverse community partnerships for a comprehensive network of resources.
  • In-Person Outreach: Black communities must know these welcoming and diverse services exist. Black American team members should be doing outreach in the community, informing them of their options. Focus on in-person outreach; ads on benches, buses, or billboards do not resonate in Black communities.

Focus on in-person outreach; ads on benches, buses, or billboards do not resonate in Black communities.

Watch the full-length recording below to learn more about how this complex issue can impact recovery outcomes.

Learn How BrightView Can Help

BrightView is focused on improving care for ALL patients. If you or someone you care about is living with a dependence on illicit drugs or alcohol, call 833.510.4357 or complete our online form to learn about how we can help you live a healthier, happier life.

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