Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
National data compiled by a federal mental health agency indicates that American Indians and Native Alaskans have a lower rate of alcohol use than do average adult drinkers. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has released results of a study indicating that American Indians and Alaska Natives have under a 44 percent rate of at least one drink a month, compared with a 55 percent rate among adult drinkers on average. The study shows that Alaska Native and American Indians have a higher rate of binge drinking than the national average.
The SAMHSA study also shows that eighteen percent of Alaska Natives and American Indians needed treatment for alcohol or drug use problems in the past year, although only one in eight received treatment at a specialty facility.
The study was developed as part of an initiative to integrate data so that policy makers and service providers can better understand substance abuse patterns and treatment needs in different population groups. SAMSHA’s study also indicates that American Indian and Alaska Natives substance use rates drop in older age groups, following the general national pattern.
Patterns of substance abuse vary among different segments of society, according to SAMSHA administrator Pamela Hyde. She says the study helps service providers to design programs that are accepted by the community which are appropriate for individual needs. The SAMSHA study is based on data gathered from 2004 through 2008.
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