In the last 3 blog posts we discussed dance and movement, music and humor as substance abuse protective factors for African Americans. In this post we discuss perhaps the most important protective factor for African Americans, spirituality. Members of 12 step communities often joke, " religion is for people who are afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for people who have already been to hell and are trying to come back. If oppression is "hellish " this might explain why spirituality has been so important to African American survival for centuries.
Harvard researchers reveal that African Americans have the highest church attendance in the country. Research presented by James Garbarino, PH.D indicates that spirituality in the form of non-punitive religion is a substance abuse protective factor. A common theme included in the definition of spirituality is connection. Where as many Americans experience connection in a church community others do not. Some experience spirituality being in nature, dancing, singing, listening to music( including gospel music). While gospel music does not specifically talk about drugs as openly and as frequently as rap music, it instills hope! The song Smile by Kirk Franklin begins with the following lyrics: " I dedicate this song to recession, depression and unemployment." All 3 of these conditions have been found to increase substance use on the individual and community levels.