Global Addiction Recovery

East Portland provider Treatment Services NW helps Burmese clients in way few others can. Their Burmese interpreter Pe Than Myint worked as a doctor for more than 30 years, and developed Burma's national system of addiction treatment. In the United States he doesn't have the credentials to directly serve clients, so he works with staff to offer a Burmese-language support group, individual counseling and translated AA literature.

Alcoholics Anonymous materials translated into Burmese
Alcoholics Anonymous materials translated into Burmese

Treatment Services NW sought out help from Multnomah County to reach more people in the Burmese community.

“It was great,” said Andrea Quicksall, a supervisor in the county’s Addiction Services division. “We absolutely want to help in any way we can.”

There aren’t enough mainstream providers with the cultural and linguistic skills to help immigrants and refugees who prefer to work with someone who speaks their language, Quicksall said.

“So we support agencies to build and provide services. It’s a really great partnership.”

Oregon has strikingly few residential and supportive housing services for addicts who need  treatment in a language other than English. For example, there are only 14 residential treatment beds in the state dedicated to Spanish-speaking residents. Those are more nearly 3 hours away, at BestCare in Madras. But Volunteers of America recently opened  a supportive housing program in Portland, with 8 beds for Latino residents. 

Residents who need language-specific recovery services can look to the following Portland-area resources:


Alcohol & Drug Treatment

Alcoholics Anonymous: Spanish-speaking residents who want help recovering from an addiction to alcohol will find plenty of meetings around the Portland area, from Gresham to Hillsboro.

Treatment Services NW: Staff work with Spanish-speaking, Chuuk and Burmese residents seeking help with alcohol addiction or ordered by the court to undergo treatment. The team is also helping  clients establish a Burmese-language AA meeting.

NW Family Services: This southeast Portland nonprofit employs a Spanish-speaking counselor to work with youth who struggle with addiction.

Volunteers of America:  Adelante! provides Spanish services to residents seeking help with alcohol and drug addiction.

Central City Concern: The Puentes and Esperanza programs serve Latino and Spanish-speaking adult and youth who struggle with addiction.

Modus Vivendi: This longtime provider serves Russian speakers seeking to recover from alcohol and drug addiction.


Problem Gambling Treatment

Asian Americans are three times more likely than Anglo Americans to be classified as problem gamblers. At the Intercultural Psychiatric Program, Amy Hsu serves clients in Vietnamese and Cantonese.

Often times, she says, it’s a family member who calls, concerned that a loved one is addicted to gambling.

Amy Hsu focuses on problem gambling at the Intercultural Psychiatric Program.
Amy Hsu focuses on problem gambling at the Intercultural Psychiatric Program.

“People think gambling is entertainment,” she said. “They don’t see it as an addiction. Even if they’re taking out a loan on their 401K to go gamble.”

Hsu works with patients for an initial 8 to 12 sessions and then evaluates whether continued treatment is necessary. Check out this discussion about Asian Americans and problem Gambling hosted by OHSU.

Other gambling serving include:

  • Volunteers of America: This east Portland nonprofit offers help for Spanish-speaking problem gamblers in addition to alcohol and drug treatment. The program also supports Asian-specific resources.
  • Cascadia: the Problem Gambling Treatment program offers counseling in Spanish.
  • Lewis & Clark Community Counseling Clinic: The team has a program for problem gamblers who can work with clients in Spanish.