Tribal Communities and Opioids
American Indians/ Alaskan Natives (AI/AN) experience overdose rates higher than any other ethnic/ racial group in the US. In recent decades the opioid epidemic has had a particularly negative impact on AI/AN populations. To respond effectively to this issue, it is vital to understand its root cause. A range of factors are responsible, with some dating back hundreds of years. The main factors are the impact of colonization and exclusion; forced migration to peripheral areas; forced removal of children and attempts at cultural genocide; poor social environments; poverty and unemployment; adverse childhood experiences; and inadequate and under-funded Federal health services. Particular blame can be attributed to the pharmaceutical industry and its active over-promotion of opioid use. A number of strategies for tackling this scourge are outlined.
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