February is Black History Month and while we celebrate the many outstanding achievements and triumphs within the African American community, it is also important to recognize that there exists many ethnic health disparities among communities of color, especially within the African American population. These disparities highlight the importance of improving our health care system to make comprehensive and accessible treatment available to everyone.

Here are the facts:

Health Coverage

  • A total of 16.6 percent of African American individuals ages 18+ do not have a regular source of healthcare.
  • Nearly half (46%) of non-elderly black adults who do not have health insurance report having one or more chronic health conditions.

Chronic Health Conditions

  • Nearly half of all African American adults have some form of cardiovascular disease.
  • About every two of five African American adults have high blood pressure, with less than half of them having it under control.
  • African Americans have higher rates of obesity than white individuals with 37% of men and 50% of women impacted by the disorder.
  • The highest prevalence of asthma occurs within the African American population.
  • Lack of early identification and treatment of cancer leads to higher incidence and mortality rates from many cancers and are responsive to treatment.
  • Mental health disorders including major depression, ADHD, suicide, and PTSD affect African Americans.

Mental Health Issues

  • Major depression
  • Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Suicide, among young African American men
  • Postraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), because African American individuals are more likely to be victims of violent crime

Barriers to Treatment

  • Distrust, discrimination and lack of cultural competence within the health care system may influence why many people don't seek or stay in treatment
  • Socio-economic factors including the inability to afford health insurance, makes health care less available.
Sources: "MH Disparity Stats." Cenpatico Integrated Care, Tucson. Accessed Jan. 2017.
https://www.cdc.gov/features/africanamericanhistory/

Angela, Peer Support SupervisorAngela Moore recognizes the importance of seeing the whole person when working in the field of recovery support -- not just a label.

"There is more to my identity than being an addict," she says.

For Angela, learning the value of her self-worth ignited the determination she needed to tackle a fourteen-year battle with drug addiction.

Now three years sober, Angela was recently promoted to Peer Support Supervisor at CODAC's Cobblestone Court site. She oversees a team of six peer support staff and has the first-hand experience that allows her to excel at providing compassionate, trauma-informed support.

"When you come for help or services, it is critical that you are able to connect with someone on an intimate level of having really understood your experience," says Angela.

Her personal struggles with addiction, trauma, and homelessness are no longer barriers; they now create a pathway for open communication and a safe space to nurture and guide others who are in similar situations.

Having been on the other side of that desk herself, Angela remembers what helped her the most when beginning her journey.

"I learned many different tools from many different programs throughout that time and I never realized that I had to apply those tools outside of the recovery room. I learned from the other people who had years of sobriety," she says.

Though she never intended to pursue a career in peer support, Angela shares that there are many rewards that come with this type of job.

"There are times when I can see that a member is really listening and has absorbed what was said. You can literally see a shift in them when they really feel that they can change," she says.

Angela is motivated by supporting members through these positive changes because she knows first-hand that change is possible.

"Anyone can listen, but when someone absorbs what is being said to them, a seed is planted that recovery is possible for them too."

Tippy Atkins, Recovery Support Coordinator, commends Angela for her tireless dedication to CODAC.  "From day one, Angela has been so dedicated to this organization. It has been amazing to see her growth in such a short time both professionally and personally," says Tippy.

More about Angela:

  • Angela is a proud mother to her ten-year-old daughter Lexi.
  • She is a licensed nail technician and enjoys being creative with fun nail designs when she isn't working at CODAC.
  • Angela enjoys watching cartoons as a form of self-care and stress relief. Her personal favorite is "SpongeBob SquarePants."

CF family
Arabella gives her mom a high five after completing their final Celebrating Families! activity with father, Robert.

On Tuesday, May 17, six families participating in an innovative treatment program celebrated the conclusion of its first curriculum cycle.

Celebrating Families! is a 16-week Evidence-Based support group model for children and parents in families that have problems with drugs and/or domestic violence. The curriculum engages every member of a family through interactive and age-appropriate materials.

This program was piloted through collaboration with the Men's and Women's Recovery Services programs, Cactus Bloom and Child & Family Services at CODAC's Broadway location.

"The teamwork of our programs to offer this to participating families was an amazing opportunity," shares Dan Krepps, Program Coordinator for Men's Recovery Services.

Each session included a shared family meal and was followed by break-out sessions led by CODAC facilitators. Topics included healthy living skills, communication, expressing feelings, managing anger, decision making, problem solving and goal setting. The families would then assemble together as a whole to exchange dialogue about what they learned and discuss how to apply these skills in their daily lives at home.

Program participant Veronica C. shares that her family learned many valuable tools that strengthened their resiliency and bond. "We have learned how to establish healthy boundaries, praise our children, have learned more patience and are even eating and sleeping better," she says.

"Parents embraced the curriculum and the possibility for change... The children came each week with enthusiasm and a willingness to learn and share," says Dan.

Objectives of the curriculum include breaking the cycles of chemical dependency and violence/abuse in families, decreasing participant's use of alcohol and other drugs, and positively influencing family reunification by integrating recovery into every-day family life.

"It was inspiring to see the families bond and grow as one."

The next Celebrating Families! session will begin in mid-July. To learn more about the Celebrating Families! Contact Dan Krepps at dkrepps@codac.org or Kelly Irving at kirving@codac.org.