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Culture And Substance Abuse

Culture plays a significant role in drug and substance abuse. By definition, culture refers to a structure of patterns of character and belief that normally shape the worldview and perception of an individual in society. Substance abuse, on the other hand, is the abuse of alcohol as well as other drugs, mainly illicit drugs. However, the culture predetermines what is considered illicit and can differ across various communities. Numerous culturally distinct communities have consistently used and abused drugs, especially alcohol, for a long period of time, establishing a code of character in their perception of alcohol and drugs.

When taking into consideration the link between cultural aspects and substance abuse, a significant number of influences, variables, and phenomena come into play. There are a variety of cultural stressors and factors associated with these aspects that hold the potential to increase drug and substance abuse. Medics ought to be sensitive and cautious to these cultural variations through proper understanding and cultural awareness, as well as applying nonjudgmental means when assisting their clients (Shen, 2014).

In reality, the beliefs held by a person in a certain community tend to influence their behaviour and approaches to drug and substance use and abuse. Culture takes centre stage in the formation of personal expectations on the potential challenges one may face due to drug and substance abuse (“Reaching for cultural competence,” 2013). A good instance is the ancient Aztecs using alcohol before the white settlers came. They highly regulated the use of alcohol and reserved it for ceremonial purposes only. The community strictly forbade the use of alcohol for non-ceremonial purposes and had enacted a death penalty for anyone who disobeyed the rule.

Eras of rapid social change may result in initiation as well as excess substance abuse, especially among cultural groups whose experience and exposure to drugs are little and limited. Such communities often lack protective normative behaviour, which can assist them in coping with the situation. Native populations may experience anomie, also described as the loss of a healthy cultural or ethnic identity as a result of the devastation of their cultures by the rapid and sudden influx of external influence and manipulation.

In nursing, cultural competence is required; this is caring for patients who have a different language and/or cultural background from yours with the right attitude, necessary knowledge, and skill set. Cultural competence is required by the nursing standards of command for nursing education (Smith, 2013).

Nursing care has, for many years, gone through a lot of stimuli, and thus, it has evolved as well as adapted. The range of incentives includes the invention of a new treatment, the development of very pure technical systems, shifts in popular norms and expectations in the diverse society, as well as other significant discoveries in medical and pharmaceutical treatments (Harkess&Kaddoura, 2015).

Cultural competence helps the nurses and medics bond with their patients. It makes it possible for the nurses to address the patients while at the same time upholding and embracing their cultural beliefs and practices. Some patients may have their own perceptions of treatment and medicines, and it is significant for nurses and medical practitioners to adopt them.


Harkess, L., &Kaddoura, M. (2015). Culture and Cultural Competence in Nursing Education and Practice: The State of the Art. Nursing Forum, 51(3), 211-222.

Reaching for cultural competence. (2013). Nursing, 43(6), 37-38.

Shen, Z. (2014). Cultural Competence Models and Cultural Competence Assessment Instruments in Nursing.Journal Of Transcultural Nursing, 26(3), 308-321.

Smith, L. (2013). Reaching for cultural competence.Nursing, 43(6), 30-37.



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