Research & Resources

Cultural Protection from Polysubstance Use Among Native American Adolescents and Young Adults

This study investigated the relationship between cultural factors and high-risk substance use, including polysubstance use, early initiation of alcohol and illicit drug use, and binge drinking. Researchers also investigated substance use frequency and prevalence of various substances. Researchers analyzed data from 288 tribal members (15–24 years) residing on or near the Fort Peck Reservation in the Northern Plains. When controlling for childhood trauma and school attendance, having at least a high school education, increased communal mastery, and higher levels of tribal identity were significantly associated with lower odds of polysubstance use. Overall prevalence of polysubstance use was 50%, and binge drinking had the highest single substance prevalence (66%). Early initiation of substance use (14 years or younger) included marijuana (74%), inhalants (70%), alcohol (61%), methamphetamine (23%), and prescription drug misuse (23%). Hydrocodone, an opioid, was the most frequently misused prescription drug. Findings indicate that programs focused on promoting education engagement, communal mastery, and tribal identity may mitigate substance use for Native American adolescents living in high-risk, reservation-based settings.

This paper, “Cultural protection from polysubstance use among Native American adolescents and young adults,” was funded by the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center and the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health and published in the journal Prevention science.

Link to full item