Determinants of Relapse and Opportunities for Growth: Perspectives on Substance Use among American Indian Community Members
Skewes, Monica C.
Gameon, Julie A.
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esulting from generations of historical oppression and systemic racism, American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities experience serious health disparities associated with substance use disorders (SUDs). As part of a longstanding community-based participatory research intervention development project, our partnership of academic and community co-researchers conducted seven focus groups (N = 35) to understand community stakeholders’ perspectives on substance use, relapse, and recovery on a rural AI reservation. Participants included cultural leaders (n = 10), SUD treatment providers (n = 5), people with SUD (n = 10), and affected family members (n = 10). Cultural leaders viewed relapse as symptomatic of historical oppression, whereas other stakeholder groups attributed relapse to individual and interpersonal risk factors such as peer influence, lack of family support, and traumatic stress. All participant groups recognized relapse as a normative aspect of recovering from SUD that presents new opportunities for learning and growth. Specifically, regaining humility, learning to ask for help, recognizing one’s triggers, and strengthening commitment to change were identified as learning outcomes for people with SUD. For family members, relapse provided the opportunity to practice forgiveness and compassion, two important cultural values. All groups emphasized the importance of grounding interventions in cultural values and traditions.
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Psychoactive Drugs on 2021-10-27, available online: https://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/02791072.2021.1986241.
Monica C. Skewes, Julie A. Gameon, Rachel Hallum-Montes & Adriann Ricker (2021) Determinants of Relapse and Opportunities for Growth: Perspectives on Substance Use among American Indian Community Members, Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 53:5, 474-482, DOI: 10.1080/02791072.2021.1986241