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Indigenous individuals have a higher risk of developing alcohol use disorder (AUD) and co-occurring conditions. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), in 2021, “280,000 American Indian or Alaska Native people ages 12 and older (15.6% in this age group)” were diagnosed with AUD. West Coast Recovery Centers partners with local tribes and indigenous recovery programs to help people recover from the damaging effects of AUD using traditional indigenous therapies.

Risk Factors Affecting Indigenous Individuals

The popularity of social drinking has increased the risk of AUD for many young indigenous people. According to Frontiers in Public Health, “Indigenous adolescents bear a high burden of health problems associated with substance misuse, violence, trauma, sexually transmissible infections and unplanned, high-risk pregnancies; this is related to both historical and contemporary trauma including intergenerational trauma.”

Indigenous individuals often have a higher risk of misusing substances due to a range of factors, including: 

  • Genetics 
  • Family history of AUD or mental health disorders
  • Childhood neglect, abuse, or trauma 
  • Untreated trauma 
  • Lack of social support 
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders 

Most people who become dependent or addicted to alcohol have underlying issues affecting their mental health. Healthy social support is one of the best ways to reduce co-occurring mental health disorders and avoid or manage AUD. However, the risks associated with AUD often make it difficult for indigenous individuals to find positive forms of social support. Early treatment and interventions are the best way to avoid severe side effects of AUD. 

The Benefits of Culturally Specific Therapies

Clients benefit from taking part in therapies and other services that take into consideration their personal, cultural, or religious preferences and beliefs. West Coast Recovery Centers offers tailored treatment programs for indigenous clients.

Some of the primary benefits of culturally specific therapies include:

  • Reduced risk of re-traumatization
  • Creates a deeper understanding of how various factors affect mental health and AUD recovery
  • Provides a welcoming space where clients often feel safer and more comfortable expressing their needs 
  • Ensures the care team remains mindful of unique issues facing indigenous individuals 

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “To provide culturally responsive treatment services, counselors, other clinical staff, and organizations need to become aware of their own attitudes, beliefs, biases, and assumptions about others.” West Coast Recovery Centers works closely with indigenous recovery programs within the local community, ensuring indigenous clients can access the services and support they need to heal from AUD. 

How Can Programs Incorporate Traditional Indigenous Therapies

Family and community engagement is often vital to indigenous individuals participating in treatment for AUD. Incorporating traditional therapies alongside family therapy and other treatments often provides the best outcome. West Coast Recovery Centers offers indigenous treatment services prioritizing prayer, honesty, humility, compassion, respect, generosity, and wisdom. 

Traditional forms of healing often involve the following:

  • Prayers
  • Chants
  • Songs
  • Stories
  • Objects or rituals

The San Diego, CA, recovery community offers various culturally-centered activities, including the Inipi Ceremony, Pow Wow, or Sweat Lodge. According to Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, “Key to understanding the benefit of culturally-focused treatment is recognizing the meaning of Indigenous wellness, which is understood as one of a harmonious relationship within the whole person, including mind, body, emotion, and spirit.” West Coast Recovery Centers uses a holistic approach that supports culturally-centered treatments. 

Traditional Indigenous Therapies at West Coast Recovery Centers

According to the previously mentioned article by SAMHSA, “Achieving cultural competence in an organization requires the participation of racially and ethnically diverse groups and underserved populations in the development and implementation of culturally responsive practices, program structure, and design, treatment strategies and approaches, and staff professional development.”

West Coast Recovery is a Wellbriety Certified Treatment Center and offers the following:

  • Truly individualized care
  • Trauma-informed care and trauma treatment 
  • 12-Step groups
  • Mending Broken Hearts
  • Warrior Down
  • Medicine Wheel

A weekly local support group is also hosted by Wellbriety, with Native Peer Support Specialists available to help clients heal from their trauma. 

Locating Traditional Indigenous Therapies and Resources

The clinical team is certified by Wellbriety to provide a range of culturally relevant services to indigenous individuals. According to the previously mentioned article in Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, “Case managers and clinicians are encouraged to advocate for access to culture-based approaches in their work with Indigenous clients, should those clients desire such offerings . . . This can be facilitated through careful collaboration with practitioners of culture-based approaches, and through partnership with Indigenous communities.” Every client has an opportunity to work with local Native American leaders and recovery support specialists. 

West Coast Recovery Centers uses evidence-based and alternative holistic therapies to help indigenous individuals heal from the effects of alcohol misuse. The case managers also provide information about local resources and referrals to outside resources once the treatment program is complete. 

Indigenous individuals have a higher risk of developing mental health issues and alcohol use disorder (AUD). Most treatment centers don’t offer Indigenous people a space for healing using culturally appropriate therapies. However, West Coast Recovery Centers has partnered with multiple Native American community programs and organizations to ensure they provide compassionate, relevant, and culturally appropriate care to Indigenous individuals in Oceanside, CA. Spiritually and culturally sensitive treatment programs offer people in recovery a safe space for self-expression and healing. Clients at West Coast Recovery Centers have an opportunity to engage with local Indigenous leaders in the recovery community. To learn more about our services and programs, call our office today at (760) 492-6509.

West Coast Recovery Centers ( 370135CP), Valid through July 31, 2025
Jackson House Visalia (540056AP), Valid through May 15, 2025
DHCS Licensing and Certification Division