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Addiction in the African American Community: The Recovery Legacies of Frederick Douglass and Malcolm X

Abstinence-based cultural and religious revitalization movements constitute vibrant responses to the rise of alcohol and other drug problems in communities of color. Such movements often inspire culturally nuanced approaches to addiction treatment and provide culturally legitimate pathways of long-term recovery. The spark that ignites such movements is often a charismatic, recovering individual who uses his or her own personal transformation as a springboard for broad social change. This article explores what the lives of two remarkable human beings—Frederick Douglass and El Hajj Malik el Shabazz (Malcolm X)—can teach us about addiction recovery within African American communities.