Drug Treatment for Non-English-Speaking Addicts

Living in a foreign country can be a frightening and stressful situation, according to a report published by Oregon State University. Some individuals may experience anxiety due to culture shock, while others may suffer from homesickness to such a degree that it can result in depression. If left unaddressed, these normal reactions to living in a foreign environment could develop into more significant and diagnosable mental health disorders that make many individuals more at risk for drug abuse and dependence.

While the principles for effective treatment will not change simply because the recovering addict does not speak English well, or at all, the element of communication is still quite essential. A great deal of the treatments for drug addiction focuses on individual, group and family therapy with the assistance of a trained professional counselor or psychologist. It is important that the recovering addict is in a position to communicate openly and honestly, with as little risk for miscommunication or misunderstandings as possible.

Types of Talk Therapy That Depend Upon Communication

Drug addiction is determined by specific behaviors. While it is possible to detect whether drugs are present in the body through various drug-testing techniques, there is not a “blood test” to determine whether someone is suffering from addiction. Instead, professional counselors and doctors rely on the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to determine whether someone is suffering from this disease.

  • An inability to stop abusing drugs even when they want to
  • An inability to stop abusing drugs when they know they are being physically or emotionally harmed by the drugs
  • Placing the abuse of drugs above other, more important aspects of one’s life, including the needs of children, work responsibilities or schooling
  • Engaging in dangerous or reckless activities as a result of drug abuse, such as driving while intoxicated or “high,” spending time in dangerous neighborhoods to obtain drugs, or having unprotected or promiscuous sexual encounters while under the influence
  • Spending a majority or “too much” time obtaining drugs of abuse, using the drugs, and recovering from the use of the drugs to the detriment of one’s quality of life
  • Inability to control how much of a substance is consumed in a specific period of time; consistently running out of one’s supply of drugs before intended

non-english speaking addictsThese behaviors, as well as some other physical manifestations like tolerance and withdrawal, can indicate to health care professionals that there is a problem. Because drug abuse and addiction are behaviors, a type of therapy known as cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be effective in the treatment of this life-altering disease.

Cognitive behavioral therapies are talk therapies that are designed to help an individual learn a new way of thinking and to change behaviors based upon these thought patterns. This particular method of treatment consists of an individual and a therapist meeting a certain number of times over the course of several weeks. While in session, they will discuss a variety of topics and get to the root of how the recovering addict sees himself and the world around him. By helping the individual learn to ask the right kinds of questions and make better decisions, the therapist acts as a guide to the individual’s ability to change his behavior. When not in session, the individual will complete homework assignments that help him to keep his focus on recovery throughout the process. Unlike traditional talk therapy, which can last for years, cognitive behavioral therapies generally have a beginning, middle and end point where lasting changes are made. The ability to communicate fully with one’s counselor is important in order for this type of comprehensive therapy to work to its full potential.

Another form of communication therapy in the world of drug addiction treatment is the group therapy element. This type of therapy consists of a gathering of individuals who all share the struggles of addiction and treatment. By meeting together and encouraging each other, through the guidance of a trained counselor, the individuals can fulfill the desire to belong which is so inherent in the human psyche. According to Psych Central, group therapy can help individuals to improve their social skills through interaction and learn behavioral skills and techniques through the experience of others. Individuals who participate in group therapy can also provide their own experiences in an effort to help others, giving themselves a sense of accomplishment and pride.

Participation in a group setting can become animated, however, and it is important that all participants have a firm basis for communication and a similar language set, in order for the goals of group therapy to come to fruition.

Family therapy can also be important for the success of a treatment and recovery program. While all members of family unit are likely to share the same language, it is important for the counselor or psychologist mediating the therapy to also understand and be able to effectively communicate with each member of the family. Family therapy focuses on two major aspects of the recovery process. In the first aspect, the recovering addict may be the focus of attention while family members learn about the disease of addiction and develop the skills necessary to help their loved one recover.

In the second aspect, family therapy can address the overall needs of the entire family unit. Drug addiction can have far-reaching effects on the spouses, parents and children of those who suffer from addiction. For example, children may have developed distrust for their parents, while parents may suffer from guilt as they believe they could have done something more to protect their children from drug abuse. These types of issues can be addressed in family therapy to help the entire family begin a new stage of acceptance, healing and progress.

Alternative Therapies May Not Rely as Heavily on Verbal Communication

In addition to talk therapy, many treatment programs will include certain alternative therapies that rely less on verbal communication. One example is the practice of yoga. Yoga, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, is a combination of postures, breathing and meditation for the purpose of relaxation. Research has shown the practice of yoga can help some individuals with certain health or psychological conditions related to drug abuse and addiction, including anxiety and depression.

Choosing the Right Treatment for Non-English-Speaking Addicts

There are two methods for the treatment of drug addiction. One method, known as outpatient treatment, provides the recovering addict with the opportunity to continue working or caring for family members while they undergo the treatment process. The other treatment option is to participate in a residential, inpatient program that will completely submerse the individual in recovery and wellness. This type of environment, much like the process of learning a new language in an immersed environment, surrounds the recovering addict with healing and treatment 24 hours a day.

The benefits of this type of treatment include:
  • The ability to focus on recovery without the distraction of strained family relationships
  • The ability to focus on recovery without the distraction of work or social engagements
  • Access to medical and mental health care around the clock
  • The development of personal relationships with others who are also seeking recovery
  • A more focused and intense form of treatment initially that is then followed by outpatient treatment

There are many barriers to receiving treatment for many people; however, fear of one’s ability to communicate should not be one of them. If someone you love suffers from addiction, do not let the inability to speak English prevent them from getting the help needed. Contact us here at Axis to discover a path to health and healing.