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According to a 2018 study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are approximately 5.7 million Native Americans in the United States. This comprises about 1.7% of the total U.S. population. Because of various social issues that disproportionately affect Native American communities, rates of substance abuse and alcohol abuse are considerably higher in these communities compared to the rest of the U.S. population. 

Unfortunately, due to a lack of resources and culturally-minded treatment options for Native Americans, many carry these disorders throughout their lives. Understanding how these issues disproportionately affect Native American communities and the importance of culturally-minded treatment options is key to providing the treatment necessary for these vulnerable communities. 

How Are Native Americans Affected by Substance Abuse?

A variety of cultural factors affect the way that Native Americans interact with substances. This includes historical trauma, racism, poverty, violence, lack of resources, and high levels of unemployment. Because of these reasons, plus cultural norms and pressures, Native Americans have a higher rate of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, inhalant, and hallucinogen use disorders than any other racial and ethnic groups in the United States. 

According to a recent study from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 10% of Native Americans struggle with substance use disorder (SUD), and 7.1% have an alcohol use disorder (AUD). The same study reports that nearly one in four Native Americans reported binge drinking in the past month.

Additionally, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has found that 13% of Native Americans would greatly benefit from substance abuse treatment. However, only 3.5% actually receive treatment. This pervasive issue within Native American communities often leads to higher rates of suicide, school dropouts, and depression.

Treatment With West Coast Recovery Centers

Spirituality and cultural traditions are very important to Native American communities. Part of the reason that treatment for these communities is so low is that few treatment plans are created with these in mind. 

As a result, our professionals at West Coast Recovery Centers (WCRC) utilize the Red Road Curriculum. The Red Road Curriculum is available for any client who feels it is best suited for them. However, this program is more specifically tailored to the values and beliefs commonly held in Native American communities. 

What Is the Red Road Curriculum?

The Red Road Curriculum was created around the Seven Sacred Virtues of Lakota. People actively living by and through these virtues are said to be “walking the red road.” These virtues are intended to be meaningfully integrated into daily life to help those on their journey to recovery. By integrating these virtues into their lives, people can live more purposefully and intentionally as they work to better themselves. 

This aim of walking the red road is not perfection. There is no specific end status or rank that you need to achieve. The purpose is to nurse the spirit and live each day purposefully. In substance abuse treatment, it’s also used to identify the underlying factors causing the client to use substances. By nursing your spirit and finding a greater purpose for your recovery, you can create a solid foundation for living a happy life without the need for substances. 

The Seven Sacred Virtues of Lakota

The Lakota received the seven sacred virtues from the White Buffalo Calf Pipe Woman, who brought the people the Sacred Pipe. When the masculine and feminine parts of the Sacred Pipe are united, the pipe becomes empowered with the Seven Sacred Values:

  1. Wóčhekiya – Prayer: Having conversations with your Higher Power can help you visualize and strengthen your connection with your higher self. Being able to do this can help you work toward becoming a closer version of that person.
  2. Wičákha – Honesty: Honesty is the key to all relationships. Being honest with yourself, friends, family, and anyone else in your journey helps foster these relationships. This strengthens your spirit and provides a sense of trust throughout your journey.
  3. Wahwala – Humility: Walking the red road is not about achieving perfection. Humility reminds us that we’re humans and are bound to make mistakes. Acknowledging this with compassion and understanding will help you become a better learner.
  4. Waúnšila – Compassion: Compassion refers to your ability to connect with others. By practicing compassion for others and yourself, you can recognize and eliminate judgment.
  5. Waóhola – Respect: Having respect for yourself can mean recognizing that you deserve better. Learning respect for yourself and others can boost feelings of self-worth and strengthen your relationships.
  6. Wawokiye – Generosity: Part of a healthy spirit is a want to give back without thought of reward. Practicing generosity can provide a sense of peace and fulfillment.
  7. Wóksape – Wisdom: Wisdom encourages us to expand our horizons and make informed decisions. It can refer to examining past experiences as well as understanding ourselves on a more intimate level. 

Integrating the Seven Sacred Virtues of Lakota into daily life takes time, practice, and patience. Luckily, having compassion and respect for yourself is part of this journey. 

The professionals at WCRC want to help you on this journey of growth. While the Red Road Curriculum was created based on these virtues, it is available for anyone looking to grow. Fostering these values can be crucial in building a healthy relationship with ourselves, which is essential for recovery.

Due to various social factors, Native American communities are most vulnerable to substance use disorders (SUDs). Often, cultural and social factors also hinder individuals in these communities from receiving the help they need. At West Coast Recovery Centers, we value your spiritual and cultural beliefs. Our professionals will work with you on determining a treatment plan that best aligns with your goals and beliefs. The Red Road Curriculum is one option available, which teaches clients to integrate the Seven Sacred Values of the Lakota into their daily lives. This helps those on the path to recovery to live life with greater purpose and meaning. This framework can help you foster a spiritual environment that will aid your recovery process. To learn more about the Red Road Curriculum or our other services, call West Coast Recovery Centers today at (760) 492-6509.

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