Patterns of enrollment in a New Orleans women's substance use rehabilitation center

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2021 May 21;131:108490. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2021.108490. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Research has told us little about the demographics of individuals entering substance use programs in New Orleans, Louisiana, especially women accessing treatment programs. Considering that New Orleans is a predominantly Black city and both substance use treatment and research have historically left out Black patients, this study evaluates the age, race, insurance status, education level, and substance of choice for patients entering Grace House Rehabilitation Center, an all women nonprofit substance use treatment program in New Orleans, Louisiana.

METHODS: Since 2013, Tulane School of Medicine students have held weekly primary care clinics at Grace House. This study used the clinic’s patients’ handwritten intake forms to collect demographic variables between 2013 and 2019. The study then evaluated the data using descriptive statistical analysis.

RESULTS: The study analyzed 743 patient charts. We found that 78.4% of women admitted to Grace House were white (n = 627), and 14.5% of women were Black (n = 1160). The study excluded all other racial and ethnic groups due to the groups’ small sample size. The average age at admittance was 34.7 years for both white and Black women; however, the average age for Black women was 42 years old. The 743 women studied reported the use of 1123 unique substances. While more than half of both populations used only one type of substance, Black women more commonly used only one substance.

CONCLUSION: New Orleans is a predominantly Black community, yet young Black women are largely missing from the patient population that we studied. While multiple reasons exist for the lack of Black women in this population, Black substance-using women are clearly left out of the life-saving treatment that they deserve. The medical community must investigate further to make genuine, impactful changes to how substance use treatment is accessed by all minority groups, but especially Black women.

PMID:34098290 | DOI:10.1016/j.jsat.2021.108490