Abbott, P. J. (2006) Co- morbid Alchohol./Other drug Abuse/
Dependence and psychiatric disorders in adolescent American
Indian and Alaska natives. Alchoholism Treatment Quarterly,
24(4), 3- 23/ http://impurplehawk.com/naspirit.html
Unlike many other ethnic minorities,
Native Americans had resources and
means to survive.
500+ tribes with 175 languages.
Europeans introduced disease that
decreased native populations to 10%
of what they were at the end of the
In 1887, U.S. Government judged that
Indians couldn’t manage land, so
they placed the property in a trust.
By removing land and forming
reservations, families were displaced
(Sue & Sue, 2003)
•Focus on external family and community when
•27% single female run households
– High fertility rate
– High # of out-of-wedlock births
•Trouble passing down traditions/values
•According to the 1997 Congressional Record,
“In 1978 90% of Native American children
placed in state courts and child welfare were
placed in non-Native American homes.”
•60% of Native Americans are of mixed heritage
•High Rates of domestic violence, physical and
– Native American women experience 3 ½ x
that of the rest of the population (Bhungalia, 2001).
CULTURE AND SOCIETY
•66% of Native Americans
are high school graduates
•Native Americans have 3x
the poverty rate of the rest
of the population(U.S. Census Bureau,
•50% of Native Americans
living on or near a
unemployed (Juntunen et al., 2001)
•The median family income
in 2000 was $19,897(IHS, 2000).
•31% are living below the
U.S. poverty level
•Many Native Americans
take up traditional
employment such as
fishing, farming and forestry
•Many Native Americans
drop out of high school or
do not finish college
IMPLICATIONS FOR INCREASED SUBSTANCE ABUSE
Both historical factors, such as the colonial practice of introducing
heavy alcohol consumption to tribes during trading, and contemporary factors, such as
acculturation stress and decreased economic or educational opportunities on
reservations, have been implicated in understanding the increased risk for substance
abuse among American Indian youth (Beauvais, 1992,1998).
Native American youth may encounter even more complicated developmental tasks
than non-Native youth because they are typically raised in two, often contradictory,
cultures and challenged to assimilate and function successfully in both (Nieto, 1992).
Together, these models of causality provide a broad cultural and historical context for
understanding the challenges faced by youth in Native communities.
High rates of obesity and diabetes are prevalent on reservations due to the lack of
activities available (Balderes, 2000).
•Tobacco is one of the most frequently
used drugs by Native youth. According to
data for 12–17-year-olds from the last
available NHSDA, 27.5% of American
Indians/Alaska Natives were current
smokers, compared with 16.0% of Whites,
10.2% of Latinos, 8.4% of Asian
Americans, and 6.1% of African Americans
(SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, 2002).
•Tobacco is used in a number of
ceremonies, including ones related to
•Native Americans have the highest
prevalence of smoking among adults 36%
•42.5% of women and 29.1% of men are
smokers (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2002).
•“It is ironic that the wine that
is the Christians' most sacred
substance, used in the Mass to
represent the blood of their
God, has caused such a trail of
devastation within Native
populations. And the Natives'
most sacred substance,
tobacco, has caused major
health problems for so many
•Alcohol-related motor vehicle
fatalities are highest in the Native
American population, 68.1% (National Highway
•Native Americans also have a
disproportionately high rate of fetal
alcohol syndrome (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly
•Attitudes toward drinking vary
amongst tribes, however, those living
on reservations drink less often, but
are more likely to binge drink or drink
more per occasion (May & Gossage, 2001).
•Native Americans are 6x more likely
to die of alcohol related causes than
the general population (Frank et al., 2000).
•Cirrhosis is the 6th leading cause of
death in Native Americans.
•The “Firewater Myth” states that
Native Americans cannot hold their
liquor because of different
metabolism and enzyme patterns,
though no research confirm this
Traffic Safety Administration, 1999).
Peyote is a small, spineless round cactus with psychedelic properties, containing more than
fifty alkaloids – most notably mescaline. It grows naturally in the deserts of southwestern United
States (especially south Texas) and northwestern Mexico. It was called ‘peyote’ by the Aztec,
hence its current name. ‘Dry Whisky’, ‘Divine herb’, ‘Devil’s Root’ and ‘Medicine of the Gods’
are other terms used to describe peyote. This cactaceae plant species was first documented by
Hernandez in 1651, who called it ‘Peyote zacatecensis’. It was given its current name, Lophophora
Williamsii, by John Coulter in 1894. Hernandez noted that it appeared to have a sweetish
and hot taste and, when ground up, was used to alleviate joint pain. He also noted its hallucinogenic
properties and its use in sacred rituals by medicine men to foresee and predict things. It
was also used by warriors, providing them with courage to fight and the ability to abate thirst,
hunger and fear (French, 2008).
The use of hallucinogens has an important role in some Native American religious rituals.
There is no word for hallucination in the
Native American Language.
Native American youth have twice the prevalence of cigarette, alcohol, marijuana, and
cocaine use as that of Hispanics, Blacks or Whites (Frances, Miller & Mack, 2005).
Native American past month drinkers had the highest rate of illicit drug use concurrent with
last alcohol use (NSDUH, 2009).
Inhalants are commonly among the first substances used by Indian youth, often preceding
the use of alcohol (Beauvais et al.,1989).
Beauvais (1992a) reported that Indian youth living on reservations had higher lifetime
inhalant use rates than did Indian youth not living on reservations or White youth. Among 8th
graders, 34% of reservation Indians reported lifetime inhalant use, compared with 20% for
non-reservation Indians and 13% for Whites.
Marijuana use is also significantly higher among American Indian and Alaska Native
adolescents than other groups. Beauvais (1996) found that nearly 50% of Indian students in
the 7th through 12th grades reported having used marijuana on at least one occasion.
In another study (Beauvais, 1992a) he found that of the 8th graders surveyed, 47% of
reservation Indians, 26% of non-reservation Indians, and 13% of Whites reported lifetime
Native Americans are 2x more likely to attempt and complete suicide than the
general population (Sue & Sue, 2003).
Low self-esteem, cultural identity conflicts, lack of positive role models, abuse
history, social pressures to use substances, hopelessness and breakdown in the
family (Swinomish Tribal Mental Health Project, 1991; Yee et al., 1995), are
contributors to substance abuse that lead to increased suicidality and
engagement in risky behaviors.
WHAT THEY ARE AND WHAT THEY DO
A drug, is any
when absorbed into
the body of a living
function. Drugs are
change the way a
person's body works
by altering emotions
American Indian AA
Learning from elders
Unity with nature
Separateness with nature
Accept others as they are
Indian AA Steps
We come to believe that the
power of the Pipe is greater than
ourselves and can restore us to
our Culture and Heritage.
Be entirely ready for the Great Spirit
Traditional AA Steps
Retrieved June 10, 2009, from http://impurplehawk.com/naspirit.html
Abbott, P. J. (2006). Co-morbid Alcohol/Other drug Abuse/Dependence and psychiatric disorders in adolescent American Indian and Alaska natives. Alcoholism
Treatment Quarterly, 24(4), 3-23.
Balderas, J. B. (2001, American Indians' enemy: Diabetes, lifestyle, diets blamed as 50% of native Americans over 45 are affe cted. The Washington Post,
Beauvais, F. (1992). Characteristics of Indian youth and drug abuse. American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health Research, 5, 51-67.
Beauvais, F., Chavez, E. L., Oetting, E. R., Deffenbacher, J. L., & Cornell, G. R. (1996). Drug use, violence and victimizati on among white American, Mexican
American, and American Indian dropouts, student with academic problems, and students in good academic standing. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 43,
Beauvais, F. Comparison for drug use rates for reservation Indian, non-reservation Indian and Anglo youth. American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health
Research, 5, 13-31.
Beauvais, F. (1992a). Characteristics of Indian youth and drug use. American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health Research, 5, 51-67.
Beauvais, F. (1996). Trends in drug use among American Indian students and dropouts, 1975-1994. American Journal of Public Health, 86, 1594-1598.
Beauvais, F. (1998). American Indians and alcohol. Alcohol Health & Research World, 22, 253-259.
Beauvais, F., Oetting, E. R., Wolf, W., & Edwards, R. W. (1989). American Indian youth and drugs, 1976-1987: A continuing problem. American Journal of Public
Health, 79, 634-636.
Bhungalia, L. (2001). Native American women and violence. National NOW Times, (33), 5-13.
Centers for disease control and prevention. (2002). Annual smoking-attributable mortality, years of potential life lost, and economic costs-united states, 19951999 No. 51)Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Congressional Record. (1997). Indian child welfare act amendments of 1997—Hon. George Miller. Washington, D.C.: Author.
Frances, R. J., Miller, S. I., & Mack, A. H. (2005). Clinical textbook of addictive disorders (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Frank, J. W., Moore, R. S., & Ames, G. M. (2000). Historical and cultural roots of drinking problems among American Indians. American Journal of Public Health,
French, L. A. (2004). Alcohol and other drug addictions among native Americans: The movement toward tribal-centric treatment programs. Alcoholism
Treatment Quarterly, 22(1), 81-93.
French, L. A. (2008). Psychoactive agents and native American spirituality: Past and present. Contemporary Justice Review, 11(2), 155-163.
Galliher, R. V., Evans, C. M., & Weiser, D. (2007). Social and individual predictors of substance use for native American youth. Journal of Child & Adolescent
Substance Abuse, 16(3), 1-17.
Indian Health Services. (2000). Trends in Indian health-1998-1999. Washington, DC: US DHHS, Public Health Service.
Juntunen, C. L., Barraclough, D. J., Broneck, C. L., Seibel, G. A., Winrow, S. A., & Morin, P. M. (2001). American Indian perspectives on the career journey.
Journal of Counseling Psychology, 48, 274-285.
May, P., & Gossage, J. (2001). The epidemiology of alcohol consumption among American Indians living on four reservations and in nearby border towns. Drug
and Alcohol Dependency, 63(Suppl 1)(S100)
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. (1994). Prevalence and characteristic of alcohol consumption and fetal alcohol awareness-Alaska, 1991 and 1993 No.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (1999). An analysis of alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities by ethnicity. Annals Emerg Med, 34, 550-553.
Guiding Assumptions for Prevention Research
Partnerships With Native American Communities
•1. Prevention efforts must proceed nation by nation.
•2. Native American cultures contain all the necessary
knowledge to socialize mentally healthy, alcohol-and drugfree children. This knowledge need not be replaced with
information and socialization techniques derived from
•3. Cultural ways and knowledge must be viewed as equal
to social science prevention knowledge.
•4. There exist within Native American cultures
developmental risk and protective factors, which
operate independently and in interaction with
key risk and protective factors known in the majority
population. Failure to identify these factors and consider
them will mean that prevention efforts will not address
important mechanisms affecting the prevention outcome.
•5. Ownership must exist for culturally specific prevention
programs to be successful.
•6. There is a “hunger” among Native American adults and
adolescents for their cultural knowledge (Whitbeck, 2006).