Diné on the Navajo Nation experience elevated rates of alcohol-related mental illness, fetal alcohol syndrome, and traffic fatalities. Negative stereotyping of alcohol abuse among Indigenous communities has led many to view these issues as untreatable based largely on racist, colonial beliefs and poorly conducted studies. The belief that Native drinkers metabolize alcohol differently erroneously contributes to suspicions that remission efforts are futile. Consequently, substance abuse issues remain one of the greatest public health concerns on the Navajo Nation. Census data has been implemented into GIS software to visualize the prevalence and frequency of alcohol consumption relative to proximity to behavioral health services. This spatial data coupled with data regarding the application of Evidence-Based Treatment (EBT i.e., healthcare practices supported by scientific evidence) were used to determine if targeting psychological and medicinal aspects of substance abuse aids in combating substance dependency/abuse among Diné. Cultural identity and valorization were also considered to inspire more Indigenous participation. Due to previous failures to provide substantial and effective treatment to Diné people, a continued lack of cultural recognition/identity along with inadequate services promote an environment where alcohol abuse remains at a stable, high prevalence among all ages and genders. While EBT proves effective in decreasing alcohol abuse in this population, disregard for individual patient histories and values leads to less Indigenous participation in remission efforts. Evidence suggests that placing high priority on Native cultural values within an existing EBT system results in greater participation and effectiveness of these programs since patient identities/needs are being addressed appropriately. Balancing patient histories and values with Western medicine within a larger EBT system will prove effective in minimizing alcohol dependence among Diné.
University / Institution: University of Utah
Format: In Person
Area of Research: Social Sciences
Faculty Mentor: Brian Codding
Location: Union Building, PARLOR A (9:40am)