Illicit drug use affects this population more than any other racial or ethnic group (18% compared to 9% of the general population), and almost 65% report that they have used illicit drugs in their lifetime.Closely tied in with the issue of drug addiction is mental health. Native Americans also experience high rates of depression and suicide. In fact, suicide is the second leading cause of death for those in this population group between the ages of 10 and 34. (NKI Center of Excellence in Culturally Competent Mental Health)
Native American mental health and drug addiction challenges are closely tied together. Drug use has a significant impact on the mental health of users, and those struggling with mental illness are more likely to turn to drugs.
The Challenges of Confronting Native American Mental Health and Drug Addiction
Many people believe that this history of mental illness in Native Americans has its roots in the arrival of settlers from Europe. They brought warfare and physical disease with them, wiping out much of the population. The trauma and oppression those past generations faced may have impacted Native American culture, leading to increased feelings of hopelessness and general psychological distress.
Culturally, Native Americans place a higher value on group well-being and the community, making the one-on-one approach favored by most Western forms of therapy for drug use or mental health issues harder and possibly less successful. They also are more likely to avoid personal disclosures in individual counseling.Read more: Native American Rehab
For these reasons, a communal approach such as group counseling can be more effective. Mental health professionals can also help establish trust by demonstrating authenticity, respect, and concern; showing signs of listening; participating in some self-disclosure; and providing therapy at a slower pace.
Challenges facing Native American Mental Health and Drug Addiction
Another challenge that is encountered when confronting Native American mental health and drug addiction is the stigma. Culturally, there is a negative perception against mental illness, so many may be nervous about exposing their issues. This causes them to avoid seeking treatment. In order to gain their trust, mental health professionals need to be easily accessible and assure them of the confidentiality of their treatment.
If you or a loved one are Native American and are struggling with mental health problems and drug addiction, it can be helpful to find treatment within your community. Organizations like the Native American Rehabilitation Association (NARA) are not only equipped to handle mental illness and addiction but also have the cultural knowledge and sensitivity that can help individuals to get past their problems and live a sober, happy life.
Whatever path to recovery you choose, our staff has access to hundreds of treatment centers to assure the best personalized treatment for you, then with continued follow up to help you make the transition to sober living as seamless as possible.
Our trained staff of professionals are qualified to help you assess what type of treatment will be the best fit to ensure you or your loved one gets the help you need.
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