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Health
Report cites high rates of substance abuse disorders


Native Americans suffer from alcohol and drug use disorders than any other racial or ethnic group in the nation, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration said on Tuesday.

Based on national surveys, American Indians and Alaska Natives were more likely to report an alcohol use disorder than other groups. The problem was seen among Native men and women in all age groups.

American Indians and Alaska Natives were also more likely to suffer from an illicit drug use disorder, the data showed. For Native women in particular, the rate was nearly twice as high than for women of other racial and ethnic groups.

"Tragically, American Indians and Alaska Natives continue to have higher rates of substance use disorders than other racial groups within the United States," said Terry L. Cline, the SAMHSA Administrator.

The report, "Substance Use and Substance Disorders among American Indians and Alaska Natives," combines three years of data from the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The survey looks at alcohol and drug use by Americans ages 12 and above.

According to the report, Native Americans were less likely to use alcohol than other groups. Native adults, ages 18 to 25 and 26 and older, drink less than their counterparts, the data showed.

Yet they were more likely to be negatively affected by alcohol than other groups. According to the data, 10.7 percent of Native men and women experienced problems associated with alcohol abuse, compared to 7.6 percent of the rest of the nation.

Illicit drug use was higher for Native Americans than for other groups, the report said. Based on the three years of surveys, 18.4 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives said the used substances like marijuana and cocaine, compared to 14.6 percent of the general population.

The high rate was associated with higher rates of drug use disorders. Nearly five percent of Native women said they experienced problems associated with substance abuse, compared to just 2.1 percent of other women.

Overall, about 5 percent of Native Americans over the age of 12 reported an illicit drug use disorder, compared to 2.9 percent of the general population. The most commonly abused drugs were marijuana, cocaine, pain relievers and hallucinogens, according to the report.

The report did not present data on methamphetamine abuse, which tribal leaders have said is a growing problem on their reservations.

Other government reports have showed high rates of drug, alcohol and tobacco use among Native youth and adults.

Get the Report:
Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders among American Indians and Alaska Natives (January 2007)

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