Considering the nuances of working with South Asian Punjabi families around substance abuse
According to Statistics Canada (2013), in 2012, approximately 21.6% of the Canadian population met the criteria for a substance abuse disorder at some point during their lifetime. This speaks to the importance of having evidence-supported treatments (ESTs) available to inform the work of therapists when working with this clinical population and their families. However, there is a gap in the research literature on ESTs for substance abuse in that cultural factors have been underexamined and the South Asian community is consistently excluded from research. This is alarming as the South Asian population is one of the two largest visible minority populations in Canada (Nakamura, Lalomiteanu, Rehm & Fischer, 2011). The current paper examines the beliefs held by the South Asian community around substance abuse, reviews the literature on substance abuse, its effects on the family system and the treatment options available, explores the cultural factors that must be considered when conceptualizing substance abuse, considers the implications of the lack of ESTs for substance abuse for the South Asian Punjabi population, and discusses how therapists can be culturally competent in their work with South Asian Punjabis.