Chicago drug and alcohol addiction treatmentThere are several things to be aware of when working with the Spanish communities for drug or alcohol addiction.  Cultural identity is one of the most important factors to keep in mind when working with the Spanish community.  For example: Cubans, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans identify themselves as Hispanics; while Central Americans and South Americans identify themselves as Latinos for the most part.

The term Latino is used to describe all those whose language that are derived from Latin including Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese and Romanian.  The word Hispanic identifies the indigenous people who inhabit the islands of the Sea of Hispaniola, i.e. Cuban, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans.  The Latino/Hispanic communities are multiracial, multicultural, and primarily Catholic.  Some have indigenous spiritual beliefs and customs, which are practiced and incorporated into Catholicism.

There are many differences in culture, Spanish dialects, customs, traditions, music, art and foods from one community to another. Each community has a different reason for migrating to the United States and establishing themselves: political freedom, political asylum, economics, education and perceived opportunities. An example of this is Puerto Ricans are natural born citizens while Cubans are protected by political asylum.  Another interesting difference is with national sports, which differ as well in each country of origin.  While the Caribbean islands enjoy baseball, Central America and South America are passionate about soccer.

Some of these communities have been simulating and blending into mainstream America for generations and have gone through several transitions.  One of the best examples is the Mexican community who during the sixties identified themselves as Mexican American, Chicano, Tex Mex or Tejano. This depended on what region of the United States they lived or the movement they represented.  Currently they consider themselves Mexicans.

Despite these differences, Spanish communities share several important common themes:

  • Strong family ties
  • Strong work ethics
  • Strong religious beliefs

A 12-step program, such as Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous, is beneficial and effective in helping the Spanish communities for several reasons:

  1. The 12-step home group becomes a tight knit family.
  2. The 12-Step fellowship becomes the extended family.
  3. The Sponsor/Sponsee relationship is considered sacred.  The term “Padrino” (meaning Godfather) is respectfully used when speaking of one’s sponsor.
  4. Spanish spiritual/religious belief systems coincide with the 12-step concept of a higher power.

Hispanic/Latino males tend to have difficulty sharing their emotions and/or concerns openly and prefer to resolve their problems on their own.  Many will seek help from a spiritualist before visiting a therapist, counselor or entering treatment.  Spanish 12-step meetings play a significant role for Hispanic/Latino alcoholic and/or addicted drug user. These meetings provide a safe environment where they can express their true thoughts and feelings without judgment.

Despite the variety of ethnicity, religious beliefs, racial makeups, traditions, specific customs and other diversities among the Spanish communities, the commonalities shared by the groups are particularly strong when treating addiction.  The fellowship and camaraderie of the 12-step program seems to be very familiar to the Hispanic/Latino’s own family structure, including the extended family - hence why the 12-step program works so well with the Hispanic and Latino communities.

New Hope Recovery Center works from a 12-step model and strongly believes in the importance of community in treating alcohol and drug addiction.  We create a home-like environment for the healing of our clients.  Our caring diverse staff is culturally sensitive when treating members of the Hispanic and Latino communities.  If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, contact New Hope Recovery Center at 773-883-3916 or via email at

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center