Native Americans and Marijuana Use

Native Americans and Marijuana Use

Native Americans and Marijuana UseTraditional Native American culture values taking care of and connecting with the natural environment, which includes utilizing everything possible that has been provided by the earth and striving to protect it. Traditional Native American culture also uses naturopathic medicine such as herbs as part of its healing practices. As a result, some Native Americans may view marijuana use as harmless or part of their traditional culture, which can lead to abuse.

Causes of Marijuana Use in Native American Culture

Marijuana abuse among Native Americans, especially in parts of California, is higher than that of most other cultural groups. This fact might seem shocking, especially as Native Americans do not make up a large portion of the American population. However, their high rates of marijuana abuse are caused by a number of social, economic and cultural reasons, including the following:

  • Family history – Most Native Americans have experienced traumatic events in their or their family’s past, including forced relocation or separation of family members, discrimination, violence, and extreme poverty. Native Americans dealing with these events and living conditions may be more likely to abuse marijuana in order to cope.
  • Lack of available care – The majority of the Native American population now live in parts of California and along the Mexican border. It is reported that in heavily populated Native American land, there are not many treatment programs readily available, making it more likely for Native Americans to continue to abuse marijuana rather than get help.
  • Cultural norms – Since the Native American culture is based on using the land as a resource, many Native Americans do not feel that marijuana abuse is dangerous. This mindset can easily lead to drug abuse and the side effects that accompany this abuse and addiction.

Some of the many reasons why Native American use of marijuana is so common include family history of trauma, lack of available treatment facilities and cultural norms that accept marijuana use as a good thing.

Treatment Options for Native Americans

As with most substance abusers, it is important that Native Americans get help as soon as they begin misusing marijuana. This can be challenging, especially because of the above listed reasons, however it is possible. Many heavily populated areas (such as those in California) are working to develop more options for Native Americans to get treatment by building local facilities. This will help Native Americans get the treatment they need in a location that is close to home. In addition, Native Americans can always seek treatment at non-local facilities like many others throughout the country do.

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