Integrating Motivational Interviewing and Traditional Practices to Address Alcohol and Drug Use Among Urban American Indian/Alaska Native Youth

Published in: Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 2015

Posted on RAND.org on September 25, 2015

by Daniel Dickerson, Ryan Andrew Brown, Carrie L. Johnson, Kurt Schweigman, Elizabeth J. D'Amico

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American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/AN) exhibit high levels of alcohol and drug (AOD) use and problems. Although approximately 70% of AI/ANs reside in urban areas, few culturally relevant AOD use programs targeting urban AI/AN youth exist. Furthermore, federally-funded studies focused on the integration of evidence-based treatments with AI/AN traditional practices are limited. The current study addresses a critical gap in the delivery of culturally appropriate AOD use programs for urban AI/AN youth, and outlines the development of a culturally tailored AOD program for urban AI/AN youth called Motivational Interviewing and Culture for Urban Native American Youth (MICUNAY). We conducted focus groups among urban AI/AN youth, providers, parents, and elders in two urban communities in northern and southern California aimed at 1) identifying challenges confronting urban AI/AN youth and 2) obtaining feedback on MICUNAY program content. Qualitative data were analyzed using Dedoose, a team-based qualitative and mixed methods analysis software platform. Findings highlight various challenges, including community stressors (e.g., gangs, violence), shortage of resources, cultural identity issues, and a high prevalence of AOD use within these urban communities. Regarding MICUNAY, urban AI/AN youth liked the collaborative nature of the motivational interviewing (MI) approach, especially with regard to eliciting their opinions and expressing their thoughts. Based on feedback from the youth, three AI/AN traditional practices (beading, AI/AN cooking, and prayer/sage ceremony) were chosen for the workshops. To our knowledge, MICUNAY is the first AOD use prevention intervention program for urban AI/AN youth that integrates evidence-based treatment with traditional practices. This program addresses an important gap in services for this underserved population.

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