September is National Recovery Month

Native American Women and Addiction

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Substance use disorder, in particular alcoholism, is known to be very prevalent among Native American men. However, there is only little emphasis on the substance use disorder problems faced by Native American women. At New Directions for Women, we have placed an emphasis on this tremendous social problem that is devastating lives. We believe that this issue deserves attention, and that Native American women are entitled to personalized support that focuses on their individual needs.

At New Directions for Women, we served many Native American women who have been referred to us through reservation clinics, mental health departments, and resources centers. Although these institutions have an important role to play and deliver much needed services, they do not always have the knowledge and expertise to deal with substance use disorder in Native American women in particular.

The loving staff at New Directions for Women have received extensive training in the various philosophies of Native American societies. We ensure that our knowledge is updated regularly through cultural diversity training and we work closely with reservation resources as well. Indeed, we see the Native American community as our sponsor, who is there to guide us on the type of treatment that is most suitable for our patients. Hence, we offer personalized options such as drum circles, sweat lodges, and other traditional gatherings. Furthermore, we work together with Native American elders, such as Sparrow Goudey, in the community in order to address the Native American woman’s spiritual needs.

Native American Women and Addiction

It is a known fact that chemical dependency is incredibly common on reservations and many women have been exposed to alcohol and other substances when they were still children. However, true data about this problem is rare, although it is known that meth is a particularly big problem. “Methamphetamine has ravaged reservations across America, including California rancherias where monthly gambling checks are sometimes blown on the corrosive white powder.”

The problem is not well understood, partially because many Native American communities do not seek outside help for their problems. This is particularly true for women. It has been found that many Native American men have strong links to Mexican drug cartels, which can lead to situations of domestic violence, and they are often forced to turn to meth themselves.This happens behind closed doors and many women find it impossible to seek help for their problem. These women also fear for the safety of their children. Numerous studies have demonstrated that Native American women are exposed to risk taking behavior from an early life, and there is no discrimination in gender. “A 2001 study by US Department of Health and Human Services report that Native American youth are repeatedly exposed to opportunities to participate in self-destructive and illegal behaviors.”

A final particular problem is that Native American women who suffer from the disease of addiction have often seen significant abuse in their lifetime. This was recently demonstrated by a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“In a 2008 CDC study, 39% of Native women surveyed identified as victims of intimate partner violence in their lifetime, a rate higher than any other race or ethnicity surveyed.”

Very often, this partner violence is perpetrated by Native American men who are themselves struggling with chemical dependency. Our role is to ensure that Native American women receive the caring treatment they deserve. At New Directions for Women, we ensure that this is done in a holistic manner that is suitable for the cultural and spiritual needs of the women we work with. We are able to offer Native American women, and non Native American women, the opportunity to participate in cultural workshops to explore a gentle and alternative approach to finding her own unique spirituality. New Directions for Women offers a safe space for expression through sharing, listening, experiencing, to help break the cycles of self harming behaviors such as drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, and other addictive disorders.

New Directions for Women is a treatment facility located in California that offers help to women, pregnant women, and women with children. Founded in 1977, our courageous and visionary founders asked for the help of Newport Beach Junior League members to fulfill their vision of a tranquil home-like facility that would treat women with dignity and respect. Our caring admissions counselors are available 24/7 to take your call and answer any questions you may have on getting help. Reach us by phone at 800-93-WOMEN. We can help. Stay in the loop with New Directions for Women by connecting with us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

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