Tribal traditions put to use for battle against substance abuse

Native American Connections in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo from Facebook

Traditional teachings are helping combat substance abuse among Native Americans in Arizona, National Public Radio reports.

Native American Connections in Phoenix helped Ken Lewis, a member of the Gila River Indian Community, become sober. He now works for the organization to help others resist drugs.

"You're feeling worthy and that I can go into recovery," Lewis told NPR, referring to sweat lodges held by the program. "So you've cleansed all those negative feelings and thoughts and decisions you made."

Sweat lodges are also offered at Coconino County Jail. According to NPR, half of the inmates are Native and many deal with substance abuse issues.

"My job here is to help these men down a path of sobriety," Shannon Rivers, also from Gila River, told NPR. "And how we do that is through these ceremonies. Because what we know is a lot of the western ways aren't working."

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Many Native American Communities Struggle With Effects Of Heroin Use (National Public Radio 5/20)

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