Preventing addiction using a cultural approach in Native communities

Addiction Resources

BAY MILLS INDIAN COMMUNITY, Mich (WJMN) – Within Native American communities, a variety of resources are available to help people prevent and overcome addiction.

We spoke with two community leaders from Bay Mills Indian Community who talked about using a cultural approach to the topic.

Joshua Hudson is a Citizen of Bay Mills Indian Community, and currently serves as the Assistant Health and Human Services Director for Bay Mills. He recently served as a Tribal Judge with the Bay Mills Tribal Court, where he served as the longest-sitting Healing to Wellness Court Judge, which is a rehabilitative and restorative justice program centered on helping people enter recovery after a substance-related criminal conviction. He’s worked coast to coast all through the gamut of health services for Native communities, working most intensively in substance use disorder case management. Mr. Hudson is a recent graduate of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Community Leadership Network, which moves us forward toward justice by bridging divides, encouraging new ways for collaboration and leading meaningful change for children, families and communities.

“Culturally based treatment efforts are really awesome within Indian country. When we look at our culture, it’s strength-based. When we look at the western societal context, a lot of it is deficiency-base. You aren’t doing this or you aren’t doing enough of this. you need more of this. Culturally based treatment efforts are very strength-based and building up the strengths within the people and using a community approach or a holistic approach,” said Hudson.

Hudson said within the tribe, there’s been an effort to maximize all of the infrastructure that’s being built.

“There’s a lot of things things that we’ve lost or been disconnected from. When we look at trauma as a whole. Trauma at its very core is an overwhelming experience. Something we’re not able to comprehend. Something we’re not able to process through immediately and sometimes it might take your whole lifetime to process through it. As we see in our communities, sometimes it takes multiple lifetimes to process through it. So we talk about intergenergational trauma and the individualized trauma which people experience day in and day out. So the culturally-centered interventions are ways for our communities to hold each other in a good way, to take care of one another. It can be from things like naming ceremonies. When we talk about community, it’s easy to think about a group of people in a community and that is true. But community is also a group of people who choose to be together, who accept one another and care for one another. So naming our young people are really important for our young people to know they are part of the group, they are wanted in the group, welcome and they are loved,” said Hudson.

One of the organizations working to provide culturally based is the Boys and Girls Club.

Sandra Walden in the Director of Boys and Girls Club for Bay Mills Indian Community.

“What we do at the club is we offer opportunities for people to have a safe place to go to be exposed to positive role models and have access to healthy snacks, to programming, to learning opportunities which include drug and alcohol prevention, diabetes prevention and cultural opportunities. Exploring the cultural side that they might not be exposed to and finding their cultural identity, “said Walden.

Walden shared with us the excitement that comes from discovering or rediscovering cultural identity.

She then spoke to us about how the Boys and Girls Club addresses the issues of drugs and addiction.

“Really a lot of these youth are seeing these things in their families. Not really understanding, but seeing that addiction is part of their family. Not really knowing what addiction is or what that means. So we start small. We run prevention education for ages five to eighteen. We don’t star right away by saying drugs are bad, don’t do them, it’s about healthy lifestyles. it’s about good choices and understanding what drugs are. There are good drugs and bad drugs and there are doctors. Just starting on a level where they’re introduced to it and those topics. Later on in those same programs they learn what is. They learn more about it. It’s important to start early so they understand the topics and what healthy choices are and why it’s important and their role in that,” Walden said.

Volunteers and Mentors are always welcome at the Boys and Girls Club.

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