Native Americans and Hydrocodone Use

Native Americans and Hydrocodone Use

Hydrocodone is a prescription opioid used to relieve pain, but many people abuse the drug to get high or self-medicate. According to ethnic demographics, hydrocodone abuse rates are particularly high for Native Americans. A 2007 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) report showed that prescription painkillers are second only to marijuana as the drug most commonly abused by Native Americans.

Native American Drug-Use Statistics

The 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that Native Americans aged 12 and older reported the highest drug-use rates of any ethnicity, which included the following:

  • Nearly two-thirds reported lifetime illicit drug use
  • 18.3% used illicit drugs in the past 30 days
  • More than 27% used illicit drugs in the past year
  • 6.2% reported current nonmedical prescription drug use

By comparison, multi-ethnicities had the second-highest rate of nonmedical prescription drug use at 3.4%, followed by whites at 3%. For Native Americans, teen drug use is also a problem according to several studies, including the following:

  • A state report in 2001 found that Native American teens had the highest drug-use rates of any ethnic group in California
  • In 2002, a Federal survey found that Native American teens had the highest drug-use rates in Arizona as well
  • A 2011 NSDUH Report found that 6.1% of Native Americans aged 12 to 17 reported nonmedical prescription drug use in the past month, nearly double the national average
  • The same NSDUH Report found that 8.5% of Native Americans aged 15 to 17 used prescription drugs recreationally in the past month

Unlike the national average, Native American teens of both genders abused prescription drugs at similar rates.

Reasons for Native American Substance Abuse

Though most Native Americans live in urban areas, many still live on remote reservations. Several studies highlight the impact, including the following:

  • A 2012 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report found that people living in rural counties were twice as likely to overdose on prescription painkillers
  • The same CDC report said Native Americans are more likely to die from prescription painkiller overdoses than other nationalities
  • ABC News noted in 2008 that alcohol-related death rates among Native Americans are higher in remote locations

In 2000, the American Journal of Public Health published “Historical and Cultural Roots of Drinking Problems among American Indians.” The article made several important points, including the following:

  • European arrival represented a dramatic cultural shift for Native Americans
  • Alcohol played an oversized role in early frontier and colonial society
  • Early colonists pushed alcohol on Native Americans as a profitable trade product
  • Drinking alcohol was often used as a “diplomacy” tool in official meetings

The 2004 Psychological Bulletin article, “Preventing Substance Abuse in Indian Youth,” cited scholars who believe the stress of forced urbanization and cultural disruption put Native Americans at greater risk of substance abuse disorders. It started with alcohol, and it now includes painkillers.

Hydrocodone Abuse Treatment

Regardless of one’s ethnic and cultural background, professional treatment can help a person overcome hydrocodone abuse with several potential services, including the following:

  • Opioid detoxification in a medically controlled setting
  • Integrated treatment for co-occurring mental health issues
  • Counseling methods such as motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Identification of opioid use triggers and strategies to avoid them
  • Group therapy to express emotions and build support structures

Treatment programs are also available that cater to Native Americans and utilize elements of their cultural heritage.

Addiction Help

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