According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, roughly 21.8 million people, or one in twelve Americans, were diagnosed with substance abuse disorders. The Office of National Drug Control Policy estimates that more than two million Americans depend on heroin or illicit opioids, and approximately 647,000 rely on prescription painkillers. As these figures suggest, drug abuse is an enormous problem in the United States.
It follows as an unfortunate truth that these woes have spread to Native communities as well. There is a clear need for Native American drug and alcohol treatment centers that can help Native men and women overcome their addictions and lead healthy lives as part of their tribes and communities again.
Keep reading to find about Icarus Behavioral Health’s approach to helping tribe members in New Mexico onto a recovery path of their own.
The Need for Addiction Treatment In New Mexico
The urgency for addiction treatment in New Mexico is visible by looking at the state’s high rate of drug and alcohol abuse. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2011, nearly 8% of New Mexicans over 12 reported using illicit drugs in the past month. The number of people who reported alcohol abuse over that period was almost 21%, and 4.3% reported having problems with alcohol in the previous year.
New Mexico has developed a reputation for having some of the most severe drug problems in the country. In New Mexico alone, there were 40,200 arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, according to the FBI’s 2013 crime report. Unfortunately, after being arrested and convicted for driving under the influence (DUI), many people return to their addictions due to a lack of access to treatment.
While tribal lands have their own authority and arrest procedures, the presence of alcohol and alcohol-related deaths have also affected tribes in New Mexico, from Taos to Isleta.
The State of Addiction In New Mexico Tribal Lands
Drug abuse, particularly methamphetamine, has become a severe problem on Native American reservations across the United States in recent years. According to Recovery Warriors, Native Americans are twice as likely to die from an overdose than the general population. Native American reservations are especially hard hit: the rates of illicit drug use and alcohol abuse on New Mexico tribal lands are three times higher than that of the general population.
The reasons for this disturbing trend are varied and complex. Some Native American communities suffer from extreme poverty and high unemployment rates, making addiction especially difficult to overcome. Additionally, the rates of mental illness on reservations have soared, with little resources available for dual diagnosis treatment. A lack of treatment services and programs specifically catering to Native Americans living on reservations makes recovery more challenging.
Because there is such a disparity between the number of people suffering from addiction and the number of available treatment options within these communities, experts believe that many people suffering from substance use disorder who receive treatment can be at risk of eventually returning to drugs or alcohol after completing their program.
This lack of services has also led to higher numbers of overdoses among Native populations, even amid the current surge being called the opioid epidemic.
With a program designed to evolve and be informed by tribe members in New Mexico, the integrated approach at Icarus Behavioral Health can be worth traveling for. Our staff proudly welcomes all Native New Mexico residents, from Pojoaque all the way out to the Pueblo of Zuni.
Providing Alcohol Rehab for Tribes In New Mexico
Native American tribes in New Mexico are disproportionately affected by alcohol-related problems. Native Americans have alarmingly high rates of alcohol use, which is the leading cause of preventable death among both Natives and Alaska Natives.
To begin the conversation about effective ways to cater to these specific communities when it comes to providing proper rehabilitation, it is critical to realize that the behaviors, attitudes, and belief structures of Native Americans are very different from most non-natives. While most outsiders focus on the physical, mental, and emotional effects of alcohol abuse in their efforts for recovery, Native Americans tend to focus more on the spiritual connection with their own spirits and the spirits of the land around them.
This is an essential part of recovery because it allows many Native American people to maintain sobriety while living in an environment with very little support or help for alcoholics. Understanding the cultural, religious, and societal structures that deeply underpin Native American communities, having a fundamental, underlying respect for those structures, and integrating them into the science and evidence-based, time-proven methods of substance abuse recovery is the only feasible method by which one could hope to reach these communities.
Effective Drug Rehab for Tribes In New Mexico
Drug rehab programs for Native American tribes have the same essential components as other rehab programs, but the underlying issues faced by many Native Americans make them unique.
The economic and social hardships that plague native populations can make it difficult for many to obtain treatment. Additionally, cultural identity plays a significant role in determining how drug rehabilitation can be effective on a behavioral level. It is advised that for treatment to be effective, individual assessments for clients with a cultural adviser are needed.
An Action Plan for Native Addiction Recovery
The cooperation and direct involvement of tribe spiritual advisers and tribal leaders is a critical component of any program hoping to resonate heavily with Native American tribes. As emphasized throughout this discussion, the spiritual and cultural framework and heritage are vital components of most Native Americans’ identities.
By focusing purely on ‘conventional’ methods, it is all but certain that a rehab experience will be a fraction as effective as it could potentially be. By blending Native traditions, languages, and tribal input, the approach at Icarus Behavioral Health aims to incorporate tribal tradition into effective treatment.
For example, honoring ceremonies may be held for our native clients at Icarus. Additionally, support networks are vital to any recovery. This is true for persons anywhere, and especially so for those on reservations or pueblos.
Communities and bodies like the Native American Drug and Alcohol Recovery Initiative (NADARI) can be essential in providing a sense of community. At Icarus, we support and encourage outreach to sober support communities, and make the establishment of sober support systems a key part of aftercare planning for all our clients.
Evidence Based Medicine for Long-Term Sobriety
In general, aside from cultural and Tribal components that inform the Icarus approach in New Mexico, effective rehab programs consist of evidence-based and proven levels of addiction treatment. These programs can be inpatient or outpatient, depending on needs. At Icarus, we offer a full range of offerings that meet clients with the right mix of structure and support.
After you decide on a track, treatment consists of the skillful application of therapy programs, including cognitive behavioral therapy. Depending on the client’s co-existing conditions, this may be paired with medication-assisted treatments (use of anti-depressants or anxiety medications as necessary).
Holistic elements such as adventure therapy and breathwork practices round out the components of any well-rounded recovery program. This involves building life skills, habits, practices, and tools that can empower and prepare our clients, Native and otherwise, to be better able to handle life’s difficulties in healthy and non-destructive ways.
Native Languages and Traditional Values in Addiction Recovery
With the prevalence of addiction and substance abuse, recovery programs must be equipped with the necessary tools to ensure high-quality care. Incorporating Native American values can strengthen these programs and provide options that may otherwise not be available, to enrich the experience of both Native and non-Native clients.
Native Americans have maintained their cultural traditions despite pressures from outside cultures. Including these values into programs contributes to client success when incorporated in the proper ways. As was said earlier, recovery programs can gain insights into Native American values by consulting with traditional healers and tribal members. There are countless ways to honor, include and respect the culture within the context of recovery.
A program may consist of traditional songs and prayers to help with the struggles that Native clients face regarding death or loss. The rituals and practices of their tribal culture are sacred to Native Americans. While the type of ritual and components used can vary, Icarus Behavioral allows and encourages smudge ceremonies and sacred prayers, whether performed with using cedar, sage, yarrow, or sweetgrass.
The Medicine Wheel Meets the Matrix Model
The uninitiated may believe that Native American frameworks of healing may not fit neatly into the modern systems of typical Western healing philosophy because of their beliefs. This is quite simply not true. The perspectives are complementary and not as conflicting as many might initially think. Enter the Medicine Wheel and the Matrix Model.
A Medicine Wheel is a model for the healing process in native American culture. It is a way of understanding the connection between all parts of life, from physical to behavioral to spiritual. Native Americans developed this model of wellness as a way to understand the importance of each area and its relationship to the others. According to the Medicine Wheel, a person must respect each facet of their being—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual—to be healthy. The Medicine Wheel is usually shown as a circular diagram that shows these four areas in relation to one another.
On the other hand, there is the Matrix Model used in Western Recovery philosophy. The Matrix Model helps persons suffering from substance use disorder identify the behavior and mental attitudes that lead them back to using drugs.
The model helps those suffering from substance use disorder understand that they have specific behavioral patterns that can lead to relapse, providing them with the tools they need to avoid these pitfalls. The Matrix Model came about in response to the high relapse rate among drug users who complete treatment programs, particularly stimulant users.
A typical Matrix-inspired offering is divided into four stages: pre-contemplation, contemplation, action, and maintenance, each of which represents a period during which persons suffering from substance use disorder are at risk of relapsing. This model also recognizes that even after persons suffering from substance use disorder complete treatment programs and quit drugs, they often face multiple triggers that can lead them back to their old habits.
As is probably apparent now, these two philosophies, far from being at odds with one another, actively complement each other and make for a more complete approach to thinking about recovery.
A Holistic Rehab Offering for Native Americans In New Mexico
When discussing addiction recovery and treatment, it is easy to focus on the negatives and pitfalls involved in the process. But the fact is that holistic addiction recovery, which combines traditional and non-traditional approaches to overcoming an addiction, has a lot to offer.
Holistic addiction recovery also has other specific benefits that are particularly valuable in Native American communities. For instance, it gives Natives a way to address their spiritual side as part of their treatment. It also gives people an opportunity to examine the root causes of their addictions rather than just focusing on their symptoms; this helps clients heal more fully without the risk of avoiding the necessary deep work of addressing the true source of the emotional and mental scarring that led them to all their addictions.
Join Icarus on the Path to Lasting Recovery from Addiction
Our professional and welcoming team members will be happy to schedule a consultation with our expert medical team at our cutting-edge and inclusive facility to discuss your specific needs. Our treatment programs are personalized to each of our clients, holistic, and inclusive of all cultural and tribal backgrounds.
If you are ready to start the process of healing for yourself or a loved one from the clutches of alcohol or other addictions, give us a call now.