NIAAA Webinar Targets Alcohol, Suicide Prevention in Indigenous Youth
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recently hosted a webinar, “Substance abuse prevention for youth in indigenous communities.” Institute leaders, grantees and Alaska Native community members shared their unique perspectives on research, including the Qungasvik (Tools for Life) Project that was collaboratively designed and culturally tailored to prevent suicide and alcohol use in youth in their communities. This decades-long work addresses an established health disparity, as suicide and alcohol misuse disproportionately affect indigenous populations across the United States.
During the webinar, NIAAA director Dr. George Koob described his reaction to a recent trip to the Alaska project sites. He said he “felt heartened and encouraged by the innovative approaches of the researchers, the dedicated service of the community health care professionals and the indominable spirit of the proud people who continue to live meaningful lives under often difficult circumstances.”
The interventions created and assessed in the Qungasvik project aim to prevent suicide and alcohol use by engaging youth in cultural activities that bolster community connectivity. The webinar used these projects as a case study for creating similarly tailored interventions for American Indian and Alaska Native communities across the United States.
Dr. Judith Arroyo, coordinator for activities related to minority health and health disparities at NIAAA, summarized the ongoing research efforts: “This project uses culture as a resiliency factor against suicide and alcohol use. It shows us that engaging young people in cultural activities makes them feel happy as reflected in increased reasons for living. This, in turn, leads them to live a healthier lifestyle and not drink alcohol.”
The webinar can be viewed at https://videocast.nih.gov/watch=38651.