Introduction to the Special Series on Addiction, Resilience, and Recovery within Tribal Communities


Communities of Native American people are as heterogeneous as any other community; no two are alike. However, many tribal communities share painful histories of displacement, violence, epidemic diseases brought from outside, and forced cultural assimilation. Some contemporary health disparities can be attributed, at least in part, to these historical oppressions and the intergenerational trauma they have created. Today, Native Americans are more likely than other Americans to experience a range of health conditions.

During November 2016, we at The BASIS are marking Native American Heritage Month by devoting all of our research reviews to the topic of addiction, resilience, and recovery within tribal communities. Today we review research on the use of evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders in programs serving Native Americans. Next week, we examine the association between problem gambling and psychiatric disorders among American Indian and Alaskan Native populations. We follow up by describing a longitudinal study that examined alcohol use trajectories among Native American adolescents living within rural communities. Our final science review of the month will explore the need to identify risk factors for smoking among diverse populations, including Native American people.

We recognize that Native American voices are too often missing from the study of health conditions within Native American communities. Therefore, we will supplement these science reviews with an op-ed from Ms. Elima Bird, a member of the Spokane Tribe of Indians. Ms. Bird serves as a Working Group member in research the Division on Addiction is completing alongside representatives from the Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations and seven Northwest United States tribal communities. We are studying how these communities can best support adolescents returning home from residential treatment for substance use disorders. In her op-ed, Ms. Bird will describe the urgent need for communities such as her own to marshall their cultural strengths to support their adolescents in need, as well as her role in this research project.

We hope you will enjoy and learn from this Special Series.

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