Mental Health, Physical Health, and Cultural Characteristics Among American Indians/Alaska Natives Seeking Substance Use Treatment in an Urban Setting

A Descriptive Study

Published in: Community Mental Health Journal (2020). doi: 10.1007/s10597-020-00688-3

Posted on RAND.org on February 18, 2021

by Daniel Dickerson, Elizabeth J. D'Amico, David J. Klein, Carrie L. Johnson, Benjamin Hale, Feifei Ye

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Although approximately 70% of American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) reside in urban areas, our knowledge of risk and protective factors among AI/ANs seeking substance use treatment within urban areas is limited. We analyze substance and commercialized cigarette use, AI/AN cultural identity and involvement, physical health and cognitive functioning, and mental health symptoms among 63 AI/AN adults seeking substance use treatment within an urban area in California. Alcohol (37%), marijuana (27%), and methamphetamine (22%) were the most commonly reported substances. Sixty-two percent used commercialized tobacco use. The majority of AI/AN adults (78%) engaged in at least one traditional practice during the past month and endorsed high levels of spiritual connectedness. Those who engaged in traditional practices demonstrated significantly less depression (p = 0.007) and anxiety (p = 0.04). Medical and mental health issues were not prominent, although participants revealed high levels of cognitive impairment. Results highlight the importance of utilizing AI/AN traditional practices for AI/AN adults seeking substance use treatment within urban areas.

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