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Africentric Programs in Youth Substance Abuse


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Title: Africentric Programs in Youth Substance Abuse

Africentric Programs in Youth Substance Abuse
  • Alcohol and other drug (AOTD) use and related
    drug activities, such as trafficking, running and
    selling, are major problems for African American
    youth, especially those who reside within inner

  • Some of the deleterious effects of drug use
    include school drop-out, crime, incarceration,
    teen pregnancy, violence, HIV and AIDS.
  • The etiology and conditions of drug use among
    youth are complex and context dependent.

  • Program approaches and models found to be
    effective in one social-cultural context may be
    less effective in others.
  • Traditional prevention and intervention
    strategies fail to consider the socially
    determined and institutionally supported
    conditions characterizing African descent
    peoples experience in the Americas (ex. U.S.).

  • Chestang, social injustice, societal
    inconsistency and personal impotence are the
    plight of African people in America.
  • Being in the face of any one of these conditions
    does cruel and unusual violence to the
    personality of African Americans.
  • Being in the face of all three conditions exposes
    the personality to severe crippling or even

  • In order for prevention and intervention efforts
    to be effective, they must consider the
    historical-cultural context of African Americans
    (i.e., African descent people).
  • Effective prevention in communities
    distinguishable by particular racial and risk
    characteristics may require the use of practices
    responsive to the needs and opportunities
    characteristic of that setting (Chipungu et al.,

Critical Practice Approach (Rasheed Rasheed
  • Informed by the assumption and ongoing analysis
    of the impact of socio-cultural and
    socio-political factors on the presenting mental
    health problems of African American males as
    being an integral component of the clinical
  • Clear recognition of the social realities of
    racism and oppression and the manner in which
    they affect the mental health of African
    Americans is provided by this approach.

  • Principles applied to a critical practice
    approach with African American males.
  • There must be recognition of the systemic and
    societal context of racism and oppression and
    social ideologies that are infused with the
    virulent disease of racism.
  • Such recognition allows both the practitioner and
    client to become aware of how their lived
    experience (or personal narrative) has been
    impacted by these forces.

  • Effective mental health including drug
    intervention must be based on a deliberate effort
    of both the practitioner and the client to be
    aware of how their location or position within
    the social political order shapes their
    identities and the context of the helping
  • There must be identification of personal
    narratives, cognitive distortions, and language
    that reinforce a sense of disempowerment,
    pejorative classifications of difference, or a
    truncated sense of self-esteem (e.g., identifying
    dichotomous or binary thinking, such as
    superior/inferior or White males are
    good/African American males are bad).

  • There must be support for self-assertion and
    reaffirmation of both racial and gender identity
    as well as development of a more integrated
    identity as an African American male.
  • There must be a search for increased self-mastery
    and achievement of autonomous dignity.

  • There must be support for the African American
    male client in his work toward social change, by
    challenging anti-Black racism and other forms of
    bias encountered within his particular ecological
  • (This principle also includes improving the
    conditions of other men, women, and children of

  • The shifting patterns of substance use (i.e.,
    early initiation, increased marijuana use,
    narrowing differences in gender use) and the
    disproportionate socioeconomic obstacles that are
    related to substance use among ethnically diverse
    adolescent females create the need to develop
    ethnic and gender-specific substance use
    prevention frameworks (Guthrie Low, 2000).
  • In addition, culture specific (i.e., normed on
    African American populations) instruments would
    assist in planning more appropriate treatment
    services, as well as, aid in the development of
    culturally relevant ATOD education prevention

  • Cultural specific measurements are essential to
    the prevention of adverse health consequences of
    ATOD use and abuse among African Americans and
    other racial/ethnic groups.
  • Anderson J. Franklin (1999), our professional
    competence must include acquiring expertise with
    the issues formed by patients cultural, social,
    political, and economic context affecting their
    daily lives and their communities (p. 18).

  • Franklin further maintained that there is an
    urgent need for innovative, ethnic-appropriate
    interventions to improve effective delivery of
    services to African Americans.
  • Belgrave, Brome, and Hampton (2000), drug
    prevention presented in culturally meaningful and
    relevant formats is more effective in inoculating
    youth from those factors associated with
    initiation of drug use and drug abuse (p. 387).

  • Africentric values and cultural precepts, as
    reflected in prevention and intervention
    strategies, would develop resiliency in youth
    which would mitigate against those ecological
    stressors (e.g., family, poverty, racial
    oppression, community) precipitating drug use.
  • There are many rich examples of the application
    of Africentricity in practice.

Africentric Substance Programs
  • 12 sites across the country, again, were part of
    a larger CSAP HRY initiative involving 48 funded
    programs (Sambrano et al., 1997).
  • Chipungu et al. (2000), the CSAP cross-site
    evaluation offered an opportunity to document, as
    well as add to the literature base, the practice
    of prevention intervention programs serving youth
    considered high-risk.

  • Along with Chipungus review of 12 multi-site
    CSAP programs, four additional CSAP funded and
    published programs (Belgrave et al., 1997, 2000
    Cherry et al., 1998 Goddard, 1993) were located
    through searches in ProQuest, PsycINFO, and Eric
  • Hand out Tables on the Programs

Culturally Congruent Program Descriptions
  • Three cultural programmatic themes evident in the
  • First cultural category-African traditions (e.g.,
    communalism, oral expressiveness and affect
    sensitivity to emotional cues), values (e.g., the
    Seven Principles of Kwanzaa)

  • and spirituality (i.e., a force greater than
  • oneself and that the spiritual is more
  • important than the material) to promote
  • resiliency (i.e., protective and proactive
  • factors) among African American children,
  • adolescents and their families.

  • Second category- the use of historical
    contributions of Africans and African Americans
    in the development of American and world
    civilizations as a means of promoting positive
    racial identity and positive racial group
    identification in America.

  • Contemporary culture was the third category of
    cultural congruent programming in which the
    experiences of African Americans and other people
    of African descent was discussed with program
    participants in an attempt to promote an African
    consciousness, as well as to enhance awareness
    of how the mainstream culture impacts the
    capacity to make healthy decisions (Chipungu et
    al., 2000).

  • The other four non-multiple site programs
    included a range of interventions (e.g., ATOD
    direct and indirect informational services,
    academic and vocational support positive
    recreation and enrichment components, etc.) and
    delivery methods (e.g., individual, group,
    family, parenting classes, etc.) were used in
    conjunction with the use of cultural orientation
    as a central component of their intervention

  • Foster, Phillips, Belgrave, Randolph, and
    Braithwaite (1993), the Africentric orientation
    articulates a worldview, philosophical
    orientation, set of social standards, norms, and
    codes of conduct that reflect core African values
    that are essentially spiritual and communal in
    nature (p. 127).

  • Foster et al. further contend that certain
    features are common to that orientation
    attendance to spiritual beliefs, the importance
    of relationships and the relationship building
    process, acknowledgement of culture as a force,
    and a key determinant in day to day experiences.

  • Stevenson et al. (1997) Tatum (1997) that
    learning about African history and highly
    developed African cultures addresses issues of
    racial identity that confront African American
    youth particularly as they approach and enter

  • An array of recreational and enrichment
    activities enhances participants awareness and
    promotes positive identity.
  • By focusing on contemporary culture, the
    participants are made aware of the multiple risks
    and negative influences on members of a minority
    culture from a social-historical context.

  • Chipungu et al. (2000), youth served by the 12
    multi-site programs are given a basis for
    identifying positive orientations and behaviors
    that connect a positive identity with community
    and tradition to give them a context for standing
    up against external risks (p. 379).

  • The traditional features of program strategies,
    such as informational, risk and protection, were
    not replaced, but rather were enhanced by
    culturally congruent Africentric prevention
    intervention programs.

  • Packaging programs to incorporate Africentric
    traditions and values, African American history
    and awareness of the current circumstances of
    minorities in the
  • United States enriches them with a concrete and
    relevant context for the
  • inculcation of prevention strategies.

  • The use of traditional, spiritual and community
    African values guides life choices and promotes
    the development of positive values (Chipungu et
    al., 2000).
  • Chipungu et al. maintained that this approach
    emphasizes the development of protective factors
    by creating a meaningful focus for positive
    differentiation and identity.

  • They continued that the principles and values
    articulated in the cultural tradition provide a
    context for the development of belief in self,
    self-control, family bonding, and accomplishment.

Intervention and Comparison Groups in the
Culturally Congruent Programs
  • Prevention programs utilized intervention and
    comparison groups. Comparison groups are used for
    exploratory or descriptive purposes that aid in
    evaluating the effectiveness of the intervention.

Culturally Congruent Program Locations
  • All of the programs were in diverse
    contextualized (i.e., programs were situated in
    the communities in which services were provided)
    settings. Program settings are program
    characteristics (e.g., community and
    organizational environment) that can also
    condition program implementation (Sambrano et
    al., 1997).

Population Characteristics in the Culturally
Congruent Programs
  • Provided services to children and adolescents.
    The youth were the primary targeted population
    for intervention, with their parents as a
    secondary targeted group for intervention (e.g.,
    parenting training, job skills development and
    enhancement, mentoring in rites of passage
    programs, etc.).

Findings in the Culturally Congruent Programs
  • All of the studies showed the impact of
    Africentric programming on drug use, including
    drug knowledge and attitudes toward drugs, among
    African American children and adolescents.
  • Personal salience (i.e., satisfaction with
    Africentric programming and its relevance)
    increased among program participants.

  • For example, although in Belgraves later study
    (Belgrave et al., 2000) cultural values (i.e.,
    Africentric values and racial identity) were
    modest predictors of drug knowledge, drug
    attitudes and drug use, they maintained that the
    inclusion of Africentric values or racial/ethnic
    identity-related material may play an important
    role as a protective factor with certain drug

  • Belgrave et al. stated that positive African
    American racial identity was a stronger predictor
    of intolerant drug attitudes than it was for the
    other drug outcomes (e.g., drug use and drug
  • Africentric values (e.g., collective
    work/responsibility and cooperative economics)
    were significant predictors of attitudes toward

  • Collective work/responsibility and spirituality
    (i.e., attendance at religious services and
    discussions of religion and spiritual topics in
    the home) were significant predictors of
    perceived drug harmfulness.
  • Age and spirituality were significant predictors
    of drug use among the study sample, too.

  • Older children were more likely to report drug
    use than younger children, and as well, had
    higher levels of drug knowledge than younger
    children. Children with greater spiritual beliefs
    reported less drug use than those without
    spiritual/religious beliefs.

  • School behaviors (e.g., rule compliance,
    increased school interest, etc.) improved among
    the fifth and sixth grade intervention groups.
  • Cherry et al. also reported that the sixth grade
    intervention students were rated by the teachers
    as having fewer problems than the sixth grade
    comparison students in the project.

  • Goddard (1993), children and adolescents in the
    AAADP program showed improvement in school
    performance (i.e., grades) and school behavior,
    including a reduction in suspensions from
  • Significant changes in the participants
    self-esteem and other areas of social life. Ex.
    as a result of the participants community
    involvement, social bonds were developed with
    peers who reflected and reinforced their sense of
    identity (i.e., Africentric, racial pride, and
    drug free).

  • Goddard mentioned that the greatest success was
    reported in those youth who had gone through all
    three phases of the program.
  • Phase I is a general orientation and evaluation
    stage in which the participants receive basic
    information about alcohol and other drugs.

  • Phase II is a structured seven-week program of
    individual and family therapy. During this phase,
    program participants are involved in an intensive
    Africentric group.
  • Phase III is an outreach stage in which youth and
    their families participate in an extended
    recovery program at their neighborhood satellite

  • Preliminary data indicated that among this group
    there was no recidivism in alcohol and other
    drugs use and abuse among 40 to 50 percent of the
  • In addition, program participants had achieved
    some success in terms of self-reported decreases
    in the frequency and the amount of alcohol and
    other drugs (ATOD) use and abuse.

Personal salience,
  • Slightly less than two-thirds of the African
    Americans in the 12 culturally congruent study
    programs liked their programs more than African
    Americans in other programs or non-African
    American program participants.

  • The differences were substantial for African
    Americans in the culturally congruent programs
    (65.4) when compared to (42.2) of the African
    Americans in other programs and (44) of
    non-African American youth who liked their

  • African American youth in the culturally
    congruent programs were much more likely to feel
    positive about their participation in the
    programs than those in other programs.
  • Chipungu et al. found that approximately
    one-third of the African American youth in
    non-Africentric programs (33.1) and of the
    non-African American youth (32.2) expressed
    negative assessments (i.e., not important) of
    their programs.

  • On the other hand, they stated that only 16.6 of
    the African American youth in the culturally
    congruent study programs felt that their programs
    were unimportant.
  • Chipungu et al. (2000), this clearly shows that
    Africentric programming strengthens appeal and
    salience for African American youth (p. 381).

  • Furthermore, they maintained that for service
    providers, who face the daily challenges of
    providing meaningful
  • prevention services for youth at high risk, this
    was a finding of great importance for the design
    of prevention programming.

Limitations in the Culturally Congruent Programs
  • Belgrave et al.s (1997, 2000) studies by
    restricting the analysis to pre-test data, the
    study became a cross-sectional of two groups. The
    researchers assumed that Africentric values
    preceded drug attitudes and behaviors, but they
    admitted that causality could not be inferred.

  • Encountered measurement difficulties. Belgrave et
    AL. reported that although while adequate for the
    most part the instrument (e.g., Drug Usage) was
    insensitive to the respondents due to their young
    ages, ranging 8½ to 13 years.
  • An additional limitation concerned self-report

  • Response bias and other testing constraints
    (e.g., anonymity during data collection,
    literacy, comprehension, etc.) probably
    interfered with valid reporting of attitudes and
    beliefs about drug outcomes.
  • Another criticism was confidentiality. Many of
    the program participants lived in the same
    neighborhoods and attended the same classes.

  • A final limitation was the reliability of the
    Childrens Racial Identity Scale (CRIS). It had a
    low alpha (.42), making its internal consistency
    suspect in measuring racial identity stages of
    development in young African American children.
  • Handouts Additional limitations

  • Chipungu et al.s (2000), whose study analysis of
    the 12 CSAP cross-sites resulted in several
  • (a) Africentric programming was widely applied by
    service providers serving African American youth
  • (b) the study indicated how culturally congruent
    programs serve multiple functions in making
    prevention intervention strategies more
    meaningful to the lives of participating youth

  • (c) the study documented that cultural materials
    are an important resource for program activities
    and continuity and,
  • (d) the study suggested that Africentric
    programming contributes to African Americans
    youth satisfaction and program engagement. (pp.

  • Chipungu et al. are concerned, their assessment
    of Africentric programming confirmed its appeal
    and usefulness for enhancing substance abuse
    prevention among African American youth.
  • The researchers stated that cultural factors may
    serve a more prominent protective role than other
    factors, depending on the drug outcomes targeted
    for a particular activity or intervention.

  • Another example is Cherry et al. (1998), who
    maintained that their study showed more program
    effects on protective factors, as opposed to ATOD
    attitudes and behaviors.
  • Hence it and other culturally congruent programs
    may promote protective factors for other risk
    behaviors (e.g., violence, teenage pregnancy,
    school drop-out).