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Substance abuse impacting the Native community.


Native Americans hold the highest methamphetamine use rate of any group in the U.S. Reservations, especially in the Western part of the country are being used by Mexican and Canadian drug cartels as hubs for smuggling the illicit materials into the country.

Hubs are successful due to the criminal jurisdiction on reservations that restrict outside police forces to step in on certain cases and the residents need of income-producing opportunities. Along with jurisdiction, is the government’s underfunding of most tribal police agencies, resulting in under-staffing, creating a welcoming environment for crime.

Methamphetamine and other drug use have now outweighed the alcohol abuse that affects the Native community. In Canada, First Nations people are currently struggling with and combating against cocaine usage in preserved territories. Hard substance abuse has filtered down from the adults on reservations to the young adult and teenaged population. Youth in Indian country have stated experiences where their parents have been involved with substance abuse being the reason of their own use of illicit activity.

The methamphetamine epidemic has lead to an increase in violent crimes, suicide and child abuse/neglect that was already a major problem on reservations due to alcoholism. According to a 2006 Bureau of Indian Affairs survey of 96 law enforcement agencies in Indian country, 64% said methamphetamine related activities were the cause for the increase in violent crimes.

2007 Indian country drug survey
National Drug Threat Survey 2007

With substance abuse being an ever growing problem, there needs to more done to both decrease its presence and give help to those who suffer from addiction.

Due to the fact that most Natives feel that culture is a powerful alternative to substance abuse, there cannot be a health recovery without spiritual recovery. In order to help, there must be another call for increased funding (the previous was in 2011) towards Indian Health Services to better the health education as well as for traditional and culture forms of treatment for in the Native community.

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