247330 Faith leader's perceptions of their role in substance misuse prevention and counseling

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Richard Goldsworthy, MSEd, PhD , Academic Edge, Inc., Bloomington, IN
Background. The U.S. consumes two-thirds of the world's illicit drugs, almost of U.S college students meet clinical criteria for substance abuse and addiction, and every American child will be offered illegal drugs at least once before graduating from high school. Faith leaders are well-situated to identify and engage individuals with risky substance use behaviors; however, little is known about faith leaders' experience with and perceptions regarding addressing substance use issues within their faith organizations.

Methodology. Structured mixed-methods interviews were conducted among diverse faith leaders (n=35) purposively sampled from national faith-organization directories. Interviews elicited information regarding experience with, training for, attitudes toward, and barriers to addressing substance use and misuse within respondents' faith organizations. Multistage qualitative, descriptive and correlational analyses were conducted.

Results. Most participating faith leaders have interacted, or expect to interact, with individuals with risky alcohol or substance use or with individuals who are concerned about a family member or friend with such behaviors. None reported overtly integrating substance misuse into sermons, corporate, or public prayers. Participants identified several barriers, including denial, stigma, shame, active use, and lack of training and support. Faith leaders expect to support people struggling with substance use issues, and they generally feel capable to do so although previous education has not specifically prepared them for it.

Discussion. The results suggest faith leaders are engaged in substance use counseling, may be an important partner in public health prevention/intervention efforts, may benefit from training and support tools, and should receive further attention in future research.

Learning Areas:
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
Participants will be able to: explain the key first-responder role faith leaders may play in substance misuse identification and referral describe qualitative research regarding faith leaders' perceptions of their role in alcohol and substance use and abuse describe quantitative models of faith leader beliefs related to alcohol and substance misuse and abuse

Keywords: Substance Abuse, Faith Community

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I serve as principal investigator on the NIMH-funded effort, have 15+ years experience in health behavior, behavioral change and professional development, and the associated team includes widely respected expects in mental health and substance use and abuse.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.