BEE HEARD: Substance use among Native Americans 

Native Connections

In 2013, American Indian and Alaskan Native (AI/AN) populations had the highest rate of substance dependence or abuse compared with other racial groups. According to SAMHSA, substance use is linked to premature death and disease among AI/ANs, making it a major public health concern. The rates of substance abuse among Native Americans are much higher than any other ethnicity in the country. Factors such as poverty, historical trauma, and lack of health insurance increase the risk of addiction among Native Americans. In addition, Native American communities lack the basic needs to prevent these types of illnesses.  

Treatment Considerations 

SAMSHA reports that Native Americans need substance use services, but only 3.5% actually receive any treatment. Unfortunately, rural Native American communities have limited access to services due to transportation and shortage of treatment options in their communities. These disparities can be resolved through culturally appropriate treatment programs designed to fit the diversity among Native Americans. Studies have shown the importance of cultural identity for Native American seeking treatment for substance abuse. Better outcomes have been found when traditional healing practices are incorporated into treatment programs.  

Treatment options in our community 

What do you do if you or someone you know is interested in Substance Abuse treatment and don’t know where to start? Here at the Behavioral Health division, we have professionals to support your recovery. Our team consists of Substance Abuse Counselors, Peer Recovery Coaches, and Medication-Assisted Treatment. We have two culturally appropriate programs through the Wellbriety Movement that emphasizes medicine wheel, wisdom from Native American elders, and how our Native culture is key to prevention.  

References: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2014). SAMHSA American Indian/Alaska Native Data.  

Here’s to your good health! 

It’s okay not to feel okay 

If you or someone you know has been struggling with their emotions, behaviors, or substance use please reach out to us. We can help you find appropriate tools and services that could help you overcome obstacles in your life. We are here for you. Please contact the Southern Ute Behavioral Health Division at 970-563-5700 for more information or to set up an appointment to see a counselor or therapist. Reminder: If you need to talk to someone, please reach out. 

And for those interested in opioid use education, harm reduction, and support, please contact us for quick Naloxone (Narcan) training and fentanyl test strips. We can schedule individual, family, or friends training times at our Southern Ute Behavioral Health Building, or we can come to you, and the training is around 30 minutes. Please call us at 970-563-5700 to set up a training appointment. 

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