Although American Indians (AI) and Alaskan Natives (AN) make up a small percentage of the U.S. population, they’re disproportionately affected by social problems that contribute to substance use and addiction.
According to the 2015 Census, there are about 6.6 million Native Americans representing approximately 2% of the U.S. population. Native Americans are twice as likely to live under poor conditions when compared to the general population. More than 30% of Native Americans don’t have health insurance, and their life expectancy is about six years lower than the rest of the population.
American Indians are also highly likely to experience racial discrimination when compared to other groups. Research conducted by the Department of Justice found that at least 70% of crimes experienced by American Indians and Alaskan Natives are committed by people who are not Native Americans. This rate of racial violence is significantly higher than those experienced by other groups.
Factors Influencing Drug Use in This Group
Native Americans have higher incidences of substance abuse due to their history in the U.S., including forced relocations and political injustices. High rates of violence, loss, isolation, trauma and discrimination also make individuals in this group susceptible to alcohol and drug use.
Compared to other groups, Native Americans are more likely to report:
- Drug and substance use
- IV drug use
- Suicide attempts
- Anxiety and depression
- Hospitalization because of drugs
- Difficulty finding employment
- Domestic issues
Common Substance Addictions Among Native Americans
Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance among Native Americans. However, the use of illicit drugs is a factor, too. Research conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2015 found that the use of drugs among Native Americans aged 12 and older was approximately 54%, and about 23% reported having used drugs in the past year.
Some of the drugs most commonly abused by Native Americans include:
- Crystal meth
- Prescribed medications
Common Process Addictions Among Native Americans
Aside from alcohol and drug abuse, Native Americans may also have process addictions, which are commonly referred to as behavioral addictions. Common process addictions among Native Americans include:
Barriers to Treatment for Native Americans
Barriers to treatment for alcohol and drug use among Native Americans include:
- Lack of cultural inclusiveness in social activities
- Lack of quality service providers
- Absence of health insurance coverage
- Lack of awareness of the adverse effects of addiction
- Reservation or rural living far from treatment centers
- Lack of transportation
Substance Abuse Treatment for Native Americans
There are many factors to consider when it comes to substance abuse treatment for Native Americans. Many lack access to treatment centers because of their location on reservations. Additionally, most members lack health insurance and the means to pay for addiction programs, making it hard to get the help they need.
Different cultural beliefs should also be considered. Different beliefs, customs and levels of trust in western medicine can affect the success of treatment in an addiction program. Specialized programs for Native Americans take into account all of the above to provide an all-inclusive plan for addiction recovery.
Most facilities that offer Native American alcoholism and addiction treatment offer both traditional and modern treatment methods. The more culturally aware a program is, the more likely individuals from these groups are to seek treatment for addiction.
Addiction Recovery for Native Americans
If you’re struggling with substance abuse, seeking treatment for your addiction is the best thing to do. There are many treatment options available, and some rehab facilities, including Gateway Foundation, offer addiction treatment for Native Americans.
If you want to learn more about Native American drug use treatment programs, feel free to call our qualified therapists at 877-352-9566 or reach out to us through our online contact page to get the help you need.