Social Work graduate student Shakara Lesane's paper paper titled “Revisiting Barriers to Treatment of Substance Use Disorders among African and African American Women,” which was recently presented at the Southeast Regional Seminar in African Studies, considered whether Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) itself is one of the barriers for African and African American women in drug treatment programs.
Lesane identified several recommendations one of which is the call for effective integrated services that are inclusive of the Afrocentric component. Using an Afrocentric component with African and African American women will provide balance to the AA 12-Steps that participants must recite in many drug treatment programs. The 12 Steps focuses on powerlessness while Asante’s (2013) Afrocentric approach has a focus on empowerment. Lesane suggests that African and African American women will experience more successful treatment outcomes when they feel a sense of self-efficacy where these women are no longer experiencing a sense of powerlessness and hopelessness. When they begin to believe in themselves and their power to make a change, they can truly focus on a successful recovery.
In addition to barriers, Lesane's research focused on the health disparities among this particular population. Implications for social work practice were discussed primarily as a need to ensure that social workers are trained in areas of substance abuse specialty areas. Lesane was mentored by Dr. Mary Jackson, professor of social work, who served as co-author on the paper.
Pictured top is Shakara Lesane at the conference. Pictured bottom is Shakara Lesane with the Georgia College mascot.