Since alcohol was first introduced to Native Americans by early European settlers, alcohol abuse has been a major problem for this population. Data suggests that this group had high rates of illness and death related to alcohol abuse even early on, and that this problem continues at epidemic levels today. (National Institutes of Health)Native American teens have the highest rate of drug abuse compared to this age group in other racial and ethnic groups. Twelve percent of deaths among American Indians and Alaska Natives are a result of alcohol – more than triple the rate for the general population (which is only 3.3%.)
There are many reasons why this may be the case, including genetics, poverty, and stress due to a lessening sense of culture. A recent study recommended that the best way to help confront the problem is through culturally appropriate clinical intervention, such as Native American Rehab Centers.
Lack of Native American Rehab Centers
Currently, there aren’t enough Native American Rehab Centers, particularly for teens, compared to the need. For example, in California there are 5,000 Native American teens that require residential care, but the state doesn’t have a single treatment facility for Native American youth (though it does have 26 facilities that accommodate Native American and Alaska Native clients).
In 2004, a study found that there were only 283 Native American rehab centers out of the 13,454 facilities operating in the U.S. 172 were operated by Tribal government, 34 were run by the Indian Health Services, and 77 were run by another public or private organization.That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to find a Native American Rehab Center, but you may have to look a little harder.Read more: Native American Rehab
Native American Rehabilitation Association of the Northwest (NARA)
One of the most well-known Native American Rehab Centers is the Native American Rehabilitation Association of the Northwest, or NARA. The center was established in 1970 to help provide “education, physical and mental health services and substance abuse treatment that is culturally appropriate to American Indians, Alaska Natives and other vulnerable populations.”
It is a non-profit agency owned and operated by Native Americans. Though it began as an outpatient substance abuse treatment center, it now offers much more, including a residential family treatment center, a family resource program, transitional housing for Native women and children, and a primary health care clinic. Soon NARA will also open the Totem Lodge, a facility in Oregon which will provide access to resources for mental health issues.
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