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Native Americans With Co-occurring Disorders

April, 2009 marks the 22nd year of Alcohol Awareness Month.  

Tarzana Treatment Centers is participating with a series of articles meant to inform and educate the general public about alcohol abuse, dependence and treatment.  Considering that over 21 million Americans meet the criteria for alcohol abuse and over 53 million admit to past-month binge drinking, not to mention the many loved ones affected by each, our efforts are worthwhile.

Add mental health issues to drug or alcohol dependence, and you get what is clinically known as “co-occurring disorders”.  Patients with co-occurring disorders must receive mental health services along with addiction counseling when in alcohol or drug treatment.

There is a high rate of alcoholism and drug addiction, and mental health issues, within the Native American community.  And co-occurring disorders are at a higher level for Native Americans than with the general population.  The good news is that more are seeking treatment as more detailed diagnoses are being made.  The bad news is that treatment outcomes are being hindered due to the lack cultural understanding.

The problem is that most alcohol and drug treatment centers do not consider the importance of culture, tradition, and ceremony for Native American patients.  When tradition and ceremony are at the very core of a person’s existence, alcohol and drug treatment must include those elements.  Lacking these factors practically makes treatment a waste of time for the patient and the treatment center staff.  

Tarzana Treatment Centers is one of the few in alcohol and drug treatment that provides specialized practices for Native Americans.  We also maintain close contact with organizations who work for Native American progress.  And we attend events, like pow wows, to stay informed by the community and in turn to educate and inform the community about alcohol and drug detox and treatment.

The article excerpt below is from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.  It is from a speech that was given about the importance of cultural considerations in treating mental illness.

-- Begin external content –

Cultural competency must be part of the solution to every mental health challenge confronting American Indian and Alaska Native communities. A primary challenge is substance abuse, which is closely linked with mental health disorders. Compared to other cultural and ethnic groups, American Indians and Alaska Natives are disproportionately affected by diseases and death due to alcohol and other substance abuse. They also appear more vulnerable to mental illnesses. According to SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest incidence of serious mental illnesses compared to other groups.

Substance abuse and mental health disorders are real and disabling conditions. Research and practice is revealing that the two disorders frequently overlap. If left untreated—or if only one disorder is treated, both disorders usually get worse. Additional complications often arise. These complications include the risk for physical health problems, unemployment, homelessness, incarceration, separation from families and friends, premature death, and suicide. The toll on families, schools, communities, and the workplace is more than any society can afford.

-- Source: http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/newsroom/speeches/060706.asp --

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles makes a daily effort to find treatment news articles that we can share with our readers in the alcohol and drug treatment community.  The external content was found among other articles of equal informational and educational quality.

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