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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Opioid Epidemic Affects Native Americans, Too

opioid addiction
The scourge of opioid addiction in America is a crisis that can’t easily be solved. Addressing the situation has proved to be a real challenge for at least three Presidents, especially regarding opioid addiction. Alcohol and substance use disorder have been and will always be a problem in the United States. The best that anyone can hope for is mitigating the number of new cases and treating individuals already plagued by the disease.

On numerous occasions, we have discussed how the epidemic faced today is somewhat different than drug scourges of this nation’s past. Specifically, how drug use was mainly considered an inner-city problem, with suburban and rural cases few-and-fare between. The opioid epidemic, on the other hand, disproportionately affects people living in rural America.

A couple weeks ago we spotlighted a story in The New Yorker about how opioid-use is killing off generations in small-town America. Just as “crack” cocaine was widely viewed as a poor-black American problem, opioids are affecting poor-whites. Further evidence that addiction doesn't discriminate, everyone is eligible regardless of their background or skin color. However, the general focus on opioid use disorder and overdose in America has not covered a couple demographics.


Scope and Scale of the Opioid Epidemic

Over the years we have discussed how Native Americans have been affected by prescription opioids. Reservations across the country have been hit especially hard by opioid use and overdose deaths. Unfortunately, the discussion about opioid addiction in rural America often glances over peoples with a long history of disenfranchisement. Native Americans and native Alaskans are underrepresented in discourse about opioid addiction, The Washington Post reports. Even though of all the minority groups affected by opioid use disorder, data indicates Native Americans have been impacted the most.

“The epidemic is especially centered outside cities and among Native Americans and whites,” writes The Washington Post's Paige Winfield Cunningham. “Deaths rose by 325 percent over the same period when you look only at rural areas, and by more than 500 percent among Native Americans and native Alaskans. Death rates among black Americans have more than doubled, though they have risen at a lower rate than among other races.”

Such startling statistics dictate the need for increased addiction treatment funding on or near reservations. If Native Americans can’t access treatment, the chance of recovery is slim to none. Expanding access to substance use disorder treatment in rural America has proved to be one of the biggest challenges to combating the epidemic.


Native Americans Addiction and Recovery Program

At Whiteside Manor, we have treated Native American men and women for alcohol and drug dependency problems for more than a decade. We understand the unique needs of Native Americans and can help you or a loved one find recovery. Please contact us today.

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