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Substance abuse among the Quileute tribe: Current trends of usage, treatment, and prevention

1 August 2003


Background Substance abuse by Americans Indians has long been studied, especially alcoholism. Most Quiluete tribal members live on or relatively close to the reservation. This may contribute to the number of people who end up using substances to cope with the limitations and lack of opportunity on the reservation. Several elders were interviewed to develop a better understanding of the culture and the effect substance abuse has had on it.

Methods The random survey was designed to gather information about substance abuse by Quiluete tribal members. The survey was available to all Quiluete tribal members aged 12 and older. Tribal members of other tribes, who receive their health care at the Quileute Health Clinic, were also encouraged to answer the survey. People who had never used or abused substances were also encouraged to complete the survey. The completed surveys were dropped into a sealed collection box at the Quileute Health Clinic. The information was then analyzed by the researcher.

Results Only twenty surveys were completed and returned for analysis. Seventeen of the surveys noted having used alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, inhalants, or prescription drugs in excess or "illegal drugs." Two people of the seventeen have not been able to stop using. Mostly the lack of activities has contributed to this abuse. Counseling and rehabilitation have been helpful to most and the Quileute culture plays a vital role in encouraging a drug free environment.

Conclusions The Quileute tribe has similar problems with substance abuse that other tribes also have. Part of the substance abuse develops from trans-generational trauma and abuse, either physical or sexual, among tribal members. By addressing some of the social and economic issues, improvements can be made. The hope is that by increasing substance abuse prevention education, the substance abuse numbers will decline while keeping the Quileute culture active, along with the support of a drug free reservation, and advocating more family activities.


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