Drug and alcohol abuse is not exclusive to Native communities, but it is a more predominant issue than in any other race or minority group. Over the age of 12, Native Americans and Alaska Natives are more than twice as likely to have used an illicit drug in the last month than any other group.
Like so many issues within the Native community, excessive drug and alcohol abuse stems from generations of trauma that has not only not been treated but has been pushed into the dark, secret corners of families.
In too many communities, where sexual and physical abuse and neglect are prevalent, drug and alcohol abuse are the natural coping mechanism. Without a proper outlet for their emotions and hurt, Native teens, many younger than 8th grade, are turning to these methods to deal with their emotions. Native teens, with substance abuse problems, frequently turn into adults and parents who continue the cycle and become abusers themselves.
Drug and alcohol abuse continues to tear apart families.
Lutheran Indian Ministries creates safe places to allowing Natives of all ages to share their stories and start the healing process.
Ephesians 5:13-14 says:
But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light.
When we give hurting individuals a safe space to tell their story, their hurt is no longer hidden within the walls of a house or the confines of a heart. Once that hurt has been exposed to the light, God can do amazing things with it. He can heal it, and he can use it to His glory. He can mend broken families and repair relationships.
As you enjoy your family this Christmas, please keep the Native people in your prayers and consider a gift to a local drug and alcohol prevention and treatment program or a Native-focused organization.
Looking for other places to give to help Native communities? Try searching Guidestar for local organizations.