August 02, 2014

Alcohol Use Rate Among American Indian or Alaska Native Adults is Well Below the National Average

Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA)

But Native American or Alaska Native adults have a higher rate of binge drinking than the national average

Newswise — A new national study reveals that the rate of past month alcohol use (i.e., at least one drink in the past 30 days) among American Indian or Alaska Native adults is significantly lower than the national average for adults (43.9 percent versus 55.2 percent). The study, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also shows that American Indian or Native Alaska adults have a rate of past month binge alcohol drinking (i.e., five or more drinks on the same occasion – on at least one day in the past 30 days) well above the national average (30.6 percent versus 24.5 percent). The level of past month illicit drug use was also found to be higher among American Indian or Alaska Native adults than the overall adult population (11.2 versus 7.9 percent).

Among the study’s other significant findings:

• Eighteen percent of American Indian or Alaska Native adults needed treatment for an alcohol or illicit drug use problem in the past year, nearly twice the national average (9.6 percent). 

• 1 in 8 (12.6 percent) American Indian or Alaska Native adults who were in need of alcohol or illicit drug treatment in the past year received it at a specialty facility – about the same as the national average (10.4 percent). 

• American Indian or Alaska Native adults' past month substance use rates drop significantly in older age groups – for example, illicit drug use levels drop from 25.4 percent in the 18 to 25 age group to 4.1 percent in those 50 and older. This pattern is also seen in the general adult population. 
The study was developed as part of the agency’s strategic initiative on data, outcomes, and quality – an effort to create an integrated data strategy that informs policy makers and service providers on the nature and scope of behavioral health issues. It is one in a series of studies designed to provide more detailed information on substance abuse patterns and treatment needs existing within a wide range of population groups.

“Patterns of substance abuse vary somewhat among different segments of our society,” said SAMHSA Administrator, Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. “Prevention, treatment and recovery support services are vitally needed within every community. We are using these studies along with on the ground experience to design and provide these services in a way that is accepted by the community and appropriate for individual needs.” 

“We appreciate SAMHSA’s support of this study, which provides valuable findings that can be used for more targeted treatment programs and patient screening,” said Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, the Director of the Indian Health Service.

Substance Use among American Indian or Alaskan Native Adults is based on 2004 - 2008 data drawn from SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health available athttp://www.oas.samhsa.gov/nhsda.htm. This data involved responses from 227,791 persons aged 18 or older including 2,879 American Indians or Alaskan Natives. The full report is available on line at http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/2k10/182/AmericanIndian.htm. For related publications and information, visit http://www.samhsa.gov/.

SAMHSA is a public health agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. Its mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.

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