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Sisters in Support Together Against Substances (SISTAS): An Alcohol Abuse Prevention Group for Black Women

NCJ Number
Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse Volume: 5 Issue: 3 Dated: 2006 Pages: 51-62
Karen McCurtis Witherspoon Ph.D.; Alesia Williams Richardson Ph.D.
Date Published
12 pages
This article describes the curriculum used by Sisters in Support Together Against Substances (SISTAS), a culturally specific program designed to assist African-American women who are abusing alcohol as a way to cope with stressors.
The recommended size for SISTAS groups is 8-10 members. Group rules pertain to abstinence, confidentiality, and absences. Women are individually assessed by group counselors before participating in their first group. Group members participate in 10 structured weekly 2-hour sessions. The first group session provides substance-abuse education, as facilitators define key substance abuse terms such as abstinence, addiction, alcoholism, dependence, relapse, tolerance, and withdrawal. Week 2 focuses on defining the self, as the group discusses self-esteem, self-worth, self-efficacy, and a global sense of self. Week 3's session explores racial group identity, African-American cultural norms, and Afro-centered theoretical perspectives. Week 4 examines family dynamics, with attention to the influence of being raised in a family where one or both parents have abused alcohol. Positive and negative coping behaviors are examined. Week 5 considers sexuality and intimate relationships. Group members discuss past and present intimate relationships and sexual encounters. Week 6 covers mental health and well-being. Group members discuss the social and psychological risk factors for drug and alcohol abuse and dependence, such as childhood abuse and lack of support from friends and family. Week 7 focuses on environmental factors related to alcohol abuse, such as feelings of social and economic frustration, hopelessness, racism, and discrimination. Week 8 addresses the role of spirituality in providing resources for coping with life's stressors; and week 9 considers the importance of resiliency, i.e., the ability to recover from negative experiences without having long-term psychological problems. Week 10 is a celebration for members' progress through involvement in the group. 41 references