Addiction is a significant physical, mental, social, economic, and public health concern for both developed and developing countries worldwide. It is generally accepted that addiction is a chronic, relapsing disorder involving the dysregulation of a variety of neurochemical systems involved in reward, motivation, and memory. This condition doesn’t only affect non-natives, as indigenous people suffer the same or worse rate of addiction as the general population.
The most frequent addiction among indigenous populations, such as the aboriginal people of Canada and the Native Americans, are those related to alcohol and drugs, such as tobacco and marijuana. This is an alarming situation since the indigenous people represent a substantial proportion of the world’s population and this figure is projected to increase in the coming years. For this reason, several governments and health agencies are putting in place measures that will curb the high rates, including addiction treatment centres and programs.
This guide will briefly describe the main addictive drugs, addiction treatment methods, and the different types of rehab centres and residential facilities. It is dedicated exclusively to addiction treatment for the indigenous people, including those in Canada.
Indigenous Peoples’ Most Serious Addiction Problems
Addiction to alcohol and drug represents the most prevalent addiction amongst the indigenous people. This issue has a high occurrence in communities where the majority of residents are native. Statistics provided by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reveals that Native American men are the heaviest weekly drinkers when weighed against other ethnic groups, like Hispanics, Asians, Blacks, and Whites.
The situation is similar when it comes to drug abuse. Native Americans suffer the highest amount of marijuana abuse. It is no different from the aboriginal people in Canada who have some sort of abuse to either cannabis or other hard drugs, such as cocaine, hallucinogens, methamphetamines, and opioids (a potent form of morphine).
Reasons Indigenous communities Suffer High Addiction Rates
Several reasons contribute to the high rate of alcohol and drug addiction among the indigenous communities in the US and Canada. In these places, the traditional way of life has a significant influence. There are no facilities that can offer addiction treatment in rural regions where alcohol and drug use is normal. Access to help on addiction-related issues is limited to places where treatment is available, which often is outside these communities.
Medical clinics and rehabilitation centres are typically too far away, and people cannot afford to pay for private clinics. In many cases, the only health care options that are available are government clinics. This puts a lot of pressure on the people who need medical assistance to address their addictions.
Another contributing factor to alcoholism in the native community is its culture. The indigenous people are known for their close social ties. This leads to more opportunities for alcohol abuse. They do not feel the need to isolate themselves from others. Most of them believe that alcohol is used as a way of relaxing, having fun, and sharing life with others. It is also considered to be a way to cope with feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Furthermore, the indigenous communities have a high unemployment rate. Hence, there are no funds for medical treatment. Besides, it is almost impossible for them to find the nearest appropriate facility. In these communities, addiction treatment is not just something that people consider. Most of them feel hopeless because they believe that there is nothing they can do to deal with such problems.
However, in recent times, with an increased awareness of the need for treatment, there are facilities where the indigenous people can get the help they need. They have access to the means to get through addiction treatment.
Addiction Treatment Options for Indigenous People
There are treatment options that the native people can receive. There are numerous programs available that offer a variety of options that can be customized according to each individual’s needs. They are no different from what a non-native would access to treat addictions.
Detox is one of the initial steps in addiction therapy. The detox program focuses on preparing the patient for the more critical aspects of the therapy. During this phase, most of the toxins will be removed from the body. It is one of the most critical phases in the recovery process. The indigenous patient may experience withdrawal symptoms, which must be monitored by medical specialists.
After the patient has detoxed, the next step in therapy is to continue with the other phases. For this, the therapist needs to ensure that the patient is getting the required care. This includes medication and nutritional support.
This treatment focuses on the recovery process at a medical facility. It is an essential aspect of the recovery process. The patient must be admitted to a facility that offers treatment for patients undergoing rehab. The treatment plan may vary from program to program.
Although not cheap, inpatient treatment provides more comprehensive services than outpatient rehab.The reason for this is that patients can receive monitored care, alongside comprehensive behavioural rehab and counselling from professionals who have the requisite expertise to treat the patient.
Outpatient addiction treatment focuses on treatment outside the facility. It requires less commitment than inpatient treatment because the patient can continue the treatment plan without requiring a prolonged period. Patients also have opportunities to work in real-life settings and maintain a normal life while receiving treatments. The treatment plan is individualized to each indigenous patient’s needs and may include counselling, psychotherapy, and group support.
Available Organizations Providing Addiction Treatment of the Indigenous People
Several federally funded organizations are stepping into the scene to help the tribal community with addiction treatment. These organizations provide services to all members of various indigenous communities. Each organisation has unique ways of delivering care. They include:
- The American Indian Native Task Force
- Thunderbird Partnership Foundation, a collaboration between the Native Mental Health Association of Canada (NMHAC) and the National Native Addictions Partnership Foundation (NNAPF).
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
- First Nations Health Authority (FNHA)
- SAMHSA’s Native American Indian Tribal Affairs Program
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
- The Indian Health Service
In addressing addiction relating to substance abuse, there is a need for cultural sensitivity.This has led to the creation of organizations and initiatives to address the unique needs of specific communities. For example, the American Indian Task Force has set up a treatment and prevention program for Native Americans concerning substance use disorder and mental illness. By doing so, they can treat patients in this group effectively.
Indigenous people face substantial barriers when it comes to the treatment of addiction. Addressing this problem requires a shift in understanding and perspective. This begins with the recognition that indigenous people are not a monolithic group, but rather encompass a diverse set of groups with distinct needs and problems. With addiction treatment intervention groups and programs in place, the indigenous people will be able toget the help they need.