Examining the role of spirituality in the lives of African American women who use crack through the lens of Soul Theology
Sawyer, K. M., Wechsberg, W. M., Karg, R. S., Riehman, K. S., & Lam, W. K. (2006, November). Examining the role of spirituality in the lives of African American women who use crack through the lens of Soul Theology. Presented at American Public Health Association Annual Conference, .
Soul Theology posits that African Americans hold 10 core spiritual beliefs that are thought to have been developed through years of slavery and oppression, and are hypothesized to empower them through life's challenges, as well as play a protective role in emotional, physical and spiritual health. This qualitative study, using semi-structured interviews, examines the long-term intervention effects of a longitudinal woman-focused HIV-prevention intervention and how African American crack using women work on recovery issues and develop personal power. Specifically, we examined how these women's spiritual beliefs and activities impact their daily lives, health and recovery issues. Sixteen of the 20 randomly selected women expressed spirituality beliefs and/or activities in their interview. Deductive category application using Soul Theology core beliefs and inductive category development yielded several themes. Some women reported that their faith in God was important and that their faith was part of changing their drug-using lifestyle. “I feel blessed to learn that I have goals that have been accomplished that were set some time ago. Plan and work on those plans and God will deliver.” They also reported that God had spared them from contracting HIV and helped them with the emotional, economical, and physical stresses of using drugs. Church involvement and member support were also reported to contribute to the maintenance of abstinence from substance use, positive self-worth, and spending time with family. Future research should explore how to incorporate spiritual beliefs into interventions to enhance recovery and help sustain the intervention effects. Suggestions for incorporation are discussed.