Growing Crisis Of Substance Addiction In Native Americans


The problem of drug abuse has engulfed the world. Across the world coping techniques are being built to deal with the sheer scale of this monster. Practically, this problem has spread into almost all countries and ethnicities.

However, data suggests that some races are suffering more than the others due to various reasons. While the impact of addiction is almost the same in every individual, the statistics state that some races are more addicted than the others. There are plenty of side effects of this abuse and the greatest one is the reduction of life expectancy. In America, this problem is faced by Native Americans more than its white population.

The Impact Of Drugs

This drug abuse and its addiction affects a society in many ways. The biggest threat with this addiction is that the overall potency and strength of the mass is reduced. Unfortunately, in America, Native Americans that are American Indians and Alaska Natives are the most addicted. Their life span has become shorter than the white population.

The impact of these drug cases is such that the life expectancy of American Indians and Alaska Natives is about 5.5 years lower than the other races. Sometimes, deaths are due to overdose while other times it is a result of some other condition that comes with the overdose. Such as, chronic illness or organ failures. In some cases deaths are a result of suicides.

The History Of Crisis

This problem in Native Americans dates back to the time when America dealt with the Opioid crisis. Between the period of 2013 to 2015, America saw a spike in deaths of American Indians and Alaska Natives.

When compared to the white population, the deaths among the natives was about 2.7 times higher. That is a huge number when seen through a lens of overall impact on the population’s growth. Reservation has played a big role.

Survey says that the ones living near reservations or the ones on it are at a higher risk of abuse. Their younger population picks up smoking, drinking, marijuana and other drugs early on.

Who Is At Risk?

Thanks to research and development on this subject, it is now easier to find out who is at risk. This helps in not just identifying potential addicts but also bring them into mainstream before they pounce deep into the addiction hole.

People with a family history of addiction are most at risk. Personal or family trauma and even a historical trauma can lead to addiction. Higher level of stress is also one of the contributors. If a person’s coping mechanism isn’t evolved then that person is also at a high risk.

Comorbid mental disorder is also a risky factor. If the parents are not able to give time and attention to their children then that too can lead to drug addiction. At times the academic pressure and poor academic performance can also make a young individual take up substances.

Violence, alienation from culture and society, decriminalization, poverty, homelessness and normalization of substance abuse in the community are other reasons for addiction.

The Problem Solvers

There can be many problem solvers that address this issue directly and indirectly. When it comes to direct intervention, adequate healthcare can play a major role. Access to good healthcare and a reputed native American rehab center not only treats the ones who are addicted but it also encourages people to stay away from this evil. Parents play a major role in preventing children from getting addicted. It is seen that children living in a two parent home are less likely to get addicted. At times religious beliefs also help in keeping people away from drugs.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration believes that the problem can be solved by minimizing cultural disparities in behavioral health. It also believes that the treatment should be done keeping in mind the cultural needs of the patient.

Need Of Update

The treatment needs to be specialized for Native Americans. There must be a few traditional and spiritual practices integrated with the modern science practices to make the process more accessible to an average Native American. There needs to be a newer approach in understanding how the patient views healthcare and treatment. In such cases, trust and confidentiality plays a major role.

So, ensuring these to the sufferers can be a game changer. Lastly, Historical trauma and Mental Health must be kept in consideration while addressing the issues of drug abuse.

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