Doctor of Philosophy
Dr. Richard Booth
Dr. Cheryl Forchuk
Background: Canada has become a home to a rapidly growing Black population, yet the escalating issue of psychoactive substance use and misuse within these communities in Canada presents a significant public health concern. Previous studies on substance misuse in Black communities often focused on individuals directly impacted by substance misuse, failing to capture family members’ experiences and perspectives of supporting individuals with substance misuse.
Aims: This study aimed to explore the experiences and perceptions of Black family members in Canada who support relatives with psychoactive substance misuse, as well as investigate their perspectives on available supportive resources within Black communities.
Methods: Focused ethnography guided the study, using purposive sampling to recruit 26 participants in Southern Ontario. Data collection involved semi-structured interviews, and Leininger's four phases of ethnonursing qualitative data analysis were employed for primary data analysis.
Findings: The overall findings highlighted a persistent and significant problem in Black communities. Participants’ cultural norms appeared to endorse moderate use of substances among older adult men during special occasions but disapproved of such use among women and young individuals. It noted that negative consequences such as school dropout, legal issues, and stigma were associated with substance misuse. Families often concealed relatives' substance use due to shame and culturally embarrassment, leading to barriers in seeking help. The study revealed a lack of culturally relevant resources, prompting some to seek help in their home countries.
Implications: Implications for healthcare providers, especially nurses and addiction counsellors, are crucial in understanding the gender impact within Black communities, addressing the stigma associated with family members of those with substance misuse, and recognizing the importance of culturally supportive community resources, including implementation of community outreach and peer support programs to empower recovery.
Conclusions: This study revealed a persistent issue of psychoactive substance misuse, resulting in various consequences. Families often concealed substance misuse, creating barriers to seek help, with some resorting to seeking assistance from their home countries. The findings underscore the urgent need for culturally supportive resources in Canada to comprehensively address the issue of psychoactive substances and emphasize the importance of timely access to culturally relevant resources.
Summary for Lay Audience
In Canada, the Black population is growing rapidly, but there's a concerning issue of substance use and misuse within these communities. Previous studies have looked at this problem, but they often focused on individuals directed affected by substance misuse. Additionally, studies involving family members dealing with substance misuse were often conducted in other countries, leaving a gap in understanding the experiences of Black families in Canada.
The primary aim of this study was to explore the experiences and beliefs of Black family members supporting relatives facing substance misuse in Canada. The study also looked at the available supportive resources within Black communities in the country. The study used a research method called focused ethnography and interviewed 26 participants in Southern Ontario. Overall, the findings showed that substance misuse is seen as a significant problem in Black communities. Some cultural norms appeared to tolerate moderate substance use among older men during special occasions but disapproved of it among women and young people. Substance misuse had negative consequences, including dropping out of school, legal issues, and social stigma. Families often kept their relatives' substance use a secret, making it hard to get help. There was a lack of culturally relevant resources in Canada, and some people sought help in their home countries. The study's findings have important implications for those working with Black communities. The recommendations from this study suggest those working with Black communities to consider culture and family structures when addressing substance misuse in Black communities. Tackling the stigma associated with family members of those with substance misuse is important for creating effective community outreach, engaging with affected families, and promote awareness and understanding within the communities. and education programs. The study highlights the need for timely access to culturally relevant resources and support within Canada.
Monari, Esther N., "Exploring Family Members’ Beliefs and Experiences of Supporting Relatives with Substance Use and Misuse within Black Communities" (2023). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 9872.
Available for download on Saturday, December 20, 2025