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Latinos and Latinas and the drug and alcohol credentialing process: Implications for public health practice from a social justice perspective

Janer Hernandez-Bonilla, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Addiction continues to impact millions of people in the US and remains a public health priority. Public health views addiction as a disease that can be prevented and treated. However, traditionally the public health system has viewed individuals and entire communities from the perspective of needs and problems, as opposed to strengths and assets. As a result, the data indicate that Latinos and Latinas have been disproportionately impacted by addiction. However, despite the fact that Latinos and Latinas possess enormous funds of knowledge and cultural capital, they are under-represented among credentialed counselors. Moreover, the literature on drug and alcohol credentialing has produced knowledge about and for addictions counselors, with little attention awarded to Latino/a-specific issues. This dissertation seeks to contribute to the literature and discourse on Latinas and Latinos and the credentialing processes. By employing the story-telling and counter-storytelling methodologies described in Latino Critical Race Theory (LatCrit) and Culturally Responsible Pedagogies, this research creates knowledge with Latino and Latina counselors, beginning from their lived-experiences. This dissertation includes Latino and Latina individuals in the development of knowledge about their experiences with micro-aggressions and the credentialing processes. This qualitative study includes seventeen in-depth interviews and two focus groups with eight credentialed and seven non-credentialed individuals from across Massachusetts. The participants in this research study eloquently talked about the role of class and how their families impacted their views about education. They also recounted their painful experiences with racism, racialization, sexism, colonialism, internalize oppression and other forms of micro-aggressions. It should be noted that a significant number of the participants are in addiction recovery and they talked about their recovery processes, the impact on their families, and their decisions to give back to the community. All of the participants also talked about their experiences with formal education, the impact of participatory versus banking education, and the credentialing process. The counter-narrative produced by their stories includes important recommendations and opportunities for praxis. Throughout the counter-stories one can note the impressive amounts of cultural and social capital, as well as funds of knowledge possessed by the participants. They also exhibit agency, self-determination, and resiliency.

Subject Area

Public health|Health education

Recommended Citation

Hernandez-Bonilla, Janer, "Latinos and Latinas and the drug and alcohol credentialing process: Implications for public health practice from a social justice perspective" (2008). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3325274.