Skip to content

Native Americans and Addiction Recovery

Though Native Americans make up 1.7% of the American population, they have a disproportionate level of substance abuse than any other ethnic group. There are a variety of reasons for the higher addiction rates, as we will dive into below. It’s safe to say that history has not always been in favor of the indigenous population, but the tides continue to turn.

If you are Native American and are struggling with addiction to alcohol or drugs, you may have become frustrated due to the inaccessibility of addiction services that incorporate native American culture. Good news is that there are culturally relevant treatment services available for the indigenous population, such as Sunrise Native Recovery.

The Main Substances Abused

The most abused substance by native Americans is alcohol. The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health discovered that alcohol use amongst native Americans was the highest amongst any ethnic group (54.3% claimed that have taken alcohol in the past year). Binge drinking over the previous month among this population was 22.4%.

The survey also found that Native Americans reported the highest methamphetamine among all ethnicities. 20% of the 18-25 age range have a substance abuse problem. Even more astonishing is that 40% of Native American adolescents have a prevalence of the use of illicit drugs. Adolescents also had the highest abuse of pain relievers, marijuana, and psychotherapeutic drugs. Native Americans also have the highest tobacco use. 

Contributing Factors Of Substance Abuse

The figures of substance abuse among Native Americans are nothing short of shocking. But what are the reasons behind this section of American society seeking solace in alcohol and drugs? 

One possibility is that a loss of Native American culture and identity leaves one wondering who they are and how they fit into a wider society that doesn’t recognize the cultural heritage of this ethnic group.  Substance abuse may be one way of easing the emotional and psychological pain that arises from such an identity crisis. 

Other mental health issues, such as depression, can lead to seeking comfort through drugs or alcohol. Native Americans are also three times more likely to experience posttraumatic stress at some point in their life and the rate of suicide among this ethnicity is just over 70% higher than any other group.

Unemployment within this population may also contribute to alcohol or other substance abuse. A history of drug use or alcoholism within a family can influence the children in that environment. If the lifestyle is seen as somewhat normal by those growing up in the household, then the cycle of substance abuse may be carried on by the next generation.

Native Americans who have little more than a high school level of education have more prevalence towards alcohol. Addiction to drugs and alcohol may also be the result of support systems that fail to serve the needs of native Americans, or limited access to such services.

Some of the health services in the US are underfunded, which means that Native Americans’ recovery needs can be neglected. 

Addiction Recovery for Native Americans

The available services depend on the wealth of the reservation that the native American belongs to. Poorer reservations have a limited capacity to offer assistance for alcohol and substance abuse recovery 

For Native Americans seeking help to overcome their addiction, there is hope. Formed in 1955, the Indian Health Service caters specifically to the needs of Native Americans in a culturally sensitive manner. Operating in 36 states, the IHS is a branch of the federal health system. To use the services of the HIS, you need to provide evidence that you belong to a federally recognized tribe. 

The Indian Health Clinic Program is also a great option for Native Americans seeking help to overcome substance dependence. The program provides mental health and substance abuse treatment to Native Americans and their family. The service of this program also extends to helping individuals gain employment. You can find more information by visiting Indian Health Clinic Program’s website

Several non-profit groups such as the Salvation Army provide treatment services for addiction recovery. You may want to do some research as to which groups are located in your area and what assistance they can provide. 

Residential programs in which you stay in a supportive environment can also be considered. Typically, these programs offer a variety of addiction recovery assistance ranging from mainstream practices to more culturally specific workshops. 

Here at Sunrise Native Recovery, we offer addiction services rooted in tradition and evidence-based recovery services. From spiritual and cultural practices to case management to sober living arrangements, we’re passionate about helping Native Americans feel at home during their recovery process.

A Major Consideration For Addiction Recovery 

Different cultures have their own ideas on how to overcome mental health and substance abuse issues. What works for one set of the population may not work for another, as culturally-specific needs may be neglected or ignored.

When it comes to choosing a recovery program, there are plenty of options available. Yet if, as a Native American, you desire to have assistance from people that understand your culture, then it pays to go with a program that meets that need. 

As mentioned, Sunrise Native Recovery in Arizona offer culturally relevant options and respects your heritage and culture. Tribal elders and spiritual leaders have contributed their input into effective treatment programs. The team of substance abuse professionals guides you through culture-specific curriculum to help you heal and overcome whatever it is you’ve become addicted to. They’ll also help you create a better life on every level – financially, career-wise, socially, emotionally, mentally, and more.

It all comes down to supporting you in the best way possible to ensure success in your addiction recovery. Feel free to reach out for help if you’re seeking to overcome an addiction to alcohol or drugs. We’re here to answer any questions or concerns you have, and can offer a roadmap to your healing and recovery.

Related Blog Posts

11 Things to Know About Sober Living for Alcohol and Drug Treatment

11 Things to Know About Sober Living for Alcohol and Drug Treatment

As we stand at the threshold of addiction recovery, we must be prepared to face a long and challenging road…
Indigenous Resistance to Proposed Lithium Mine in Nevada Strengthens

Indigenous Resistance to Proposed Lithium Mine in Nevada Strengthens

As Daranda Hinkey surveys the vast expanse of ancient sagebrush that stretches out before her, a deep sense of sadness…
Welcoming The Bison Back To Their Land

Welcoming The Bison Back To Their Land

New research has revealed that bison, also known as buffalo, are more than just an impressive symbol of the American…

Culturally-Based Addiction Recovery for Native Americans