DDN Magazine July 2023 DDN July_2023 | Page 6



Shame , stigma and inappropriate services are serious barriers to recovery for South Asian women , says Shinasa Shahid

There is evidence to suggest that gaps in treatment provision and lack of culturally sensitive addiction recovery services in the UK are making it difficult for South Asian ( SA ) women to access the support they need . According to a rapid needs assessment report from 2005 , 70 per cent of white staff who were working in substance misuse settings admitted that they often felt uncomfortable because they were aware that their white clients and those from minority ethnic backgrounds had different needs .

Within SA – in particular , Punjabi – households , there is an unspoken cultural acceptance of alcohol use as a norm ,
something that continues to have a dangerous impact on this community , and many people who experience addiction can feel powerless to improve their situation . The current second and third generation of British Asians are becoming the new casualties of untreated alcohol addiction , compounded by the recent pandemic .
There are significant cultural barriers of shame , stigma and denial – many families feel compelled to send their loved ones to India , Pakistan or Bangladesh for drug and or alcohol treatment . Social barriers include institutional racism and little or no consideration given to the needs of SA communities in commissioning decisions , treatment and service planning . Community barriers , meanwhile ,
include the location of services and the lack of culturally appropriate information about services .
HONOUR AND SHAME ‘ Izzat ’ ( family honour ) and ‘ sharam ’ ( shame ) frequently keep SA women from looking for help . Due to the stigma associated with drinking , many SA women do it covertly , with a debilitating effect on confidence and constant worries about ‘ what will people think if they find out about my addiction problem ?’ This means that British SA women with addiction problems are often a community within a community within a community .
In some cases , religion can also contribute to stigma and discrimination against those in active addiction and recovery . In