Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Tribal teachings on opioids

Culture, community 'decided to hold me up instead of putting me down’


January 13, 2023

Indigenous people are at higher risk of substance misuse and addiction than the general population. But they also have an added protective factor: their traditional cultures. The Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska is working to build on that to change the addiction and drug overdose situation.

A study in the National Library of Medicine reports addiction and drug overdose death rates are higher among Indigenous people than the national average, a continuing multi-year trend. Risk factors include the emotional and psychological trauma of cultural genocide.

Yet the same report states American Indian and Alaska Native people also have a unique protective factor: “their deep-rooted sense of family, tribal affiliation, and spirituality.” Together with tribal programs that limit access to addictive substances, “these factors can significantly increase the success rate of substance abuse prevention and treatment.”


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