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Although, it is common knowledge that the American Indian community is the most vulnerable to drug and alcohol addiction of all ethnic populations, we are an invisible population to the larger mainstream community which exacerbates the problems of Natives health problems with addiction, diabetes, and depression. While data specific to most California tribes is difficult to find, or simply does not exist, here are a few facts derived from recent research: •

• • •

One quarter to one third of adult American Indians (AI) have a past year substance use problem. Three quarters of males and 40% of females may experience substance use problems within their lifetimes. These prevalence rates are 3 times higher than the general population. AI infant mortality rate is 22% higher than non-AI. 4 of the top 10 causes of death among AIs are alcohol related-injuries, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, suicide and homicide. AIs between 15 and 24 years of age are twice as likely as their non-AI peers to die in automobile accidents, 75% of which are alcohol related. Drinking rates among AI middle school students has been measures as 50100% higher than among non-AI middle school students. Among 12-17 year old AIs, 30.5% have reported illicit drug use in the past year compared to 17.3% of non-AI peers. 70% of AI reservations interviewed for one study rated substance abuse as one of the top 3 health problems facing their people. Another study indicated 17-19% of deaths among AIs are alcohol related.

turning gray skies to blue with tradition and sobriety


While some American Indian communities have addressed the substance abuse problem through developing treatment programs, many tribes do not have the expertise, and often do not have the necessary funding to deliver substance abuse treatment for their people. One California study showed that for every dollar spent on treatment for substance abusers there was a savings of $7 in reduced cost associated with crime, emergency medical care, and the ongoing management of chronic medical conditions within the local health care systems. American Indian nations which do not have the internal capacity to provide substance abuse treatment often rely on treatment providers in the communities surrounding their reservations. Most of the time, these programs do not use traditional American Indian healing practices combined with evidence-based treatment And recent research indicates that American Indians who engage in substance abuse treatment which blends traditional healing practices with research-based treatment such as motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy have significantly better long term outcomes related to remaining off alcohol and drugs.


Research with adult American Indians living on reservations has shown that persons who are most closely identified with their American Indian cultures are less likely to abuse alcohol and drugs; those who are more bicultural (equally identified with AI and White/Anglo culture) are more likely to abuse, and those who feel closest to non-Indian culture are the most likely to abuse. This same research has shown that when bicultural and non-AI identified individuals are “re-introduced” to American Indian cultural and spiritual practices, they are more likely to begin replacing drinking and using behaviors with greater involvement in their community on the reservation ‒bringing them closer to a value system based in the belief that “sobriety is traditional.”

one day at a time


W HO W E ARE

American Indian Changing Spirits Recovery Program is a social model, community based 180 day residential recovery program targeting Native American men, over 18 years of age, who have a desire to recover from alcohol or drug addictions. We have started serving American Indian adult women with children providing workshops and gatherings to help those struggling with addictions while caring for young children. AICS provides a children’s activity center, so the women do not have to miss meetings because of child care concerns. We soon hope to provide a residential treatment center for Indian women where they can bring their children during recovery.


O U R C L I E N T T R E AT M E N T S E RV I C E S • Individual and group counseling

• Talking Circle

• Alcohol and Drug Education

• Cultural Activities

• Relapse Prevention Education • Health and Fitness • Meditation • Anger Management • Parenting Talks • 12 Step Study • Big Book Study

• Sober/Tradition Group • Journaling • Goal Planning • GED Preparation • AA/NA Meetings • Drum Circle • Sweat Lodge for Spiritual Growth & Healing


O U R P RO G R A M Changing Spirits is a non-profit program that does not discriminate or deny services based on race, ethnic background, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, or the ability to pay. Fees are based on a sliding scale ability to pay basis whenever possible. The program is a 24-hour in house structured program. The program provides residential recovery services in an alcohol and drug-free f acility. Physical exercise is an everyday program activity and residents who are physically able are required to participate. Resident rooms are shared with other residents and each is provided with a bed and small storage space f or clothing and personal items. The facility lounge provides a communal leisure space f or the residents and also ser ves as the program education and group room. Changing Spirits is a dynamic culturally relevant alcohol and drug program that participates in outside cultural and community events.


talking circle


WORKING RELATIONSHIPS The staff and the clients use several dif ferent forms to bring out clients inner-emotions The staff works very closely with the clients in to understand the core of their addiction. Changing Spirits uses different settings to help the client tap into inner issues. The outdoor talking circle is an effective and healthy safe place f or many of the clients to release what is inside and yet have the support of the others to give them much needed strength. The outdoor talking circle is also a place where many clients feel comf ort bringing in the day with meditation and prayer. The outdoor feeling allows clients not to f eel as if they are locked inside a standard building but allows many of them to connect with ou r Mother Earth thus allowing them to begin their much needed journey on the Red Road. Changing Spirits has found the talking circle to be most effective.


O U R GA R D E N The staff and the clients use several diff erent forms to bring out clients inner-emotions. The staff works very closely with the clients in helping individuals understand the core of their addiction. Unlike conventional for ms, Changing Spirits uses diff erent settings to help the client tap into inner issues. The garden is a place where they can plant traditional Native plants and relearn connecting with nature remembering her beauty and abundance.


SW E AT LO D G E No other program in the area has brought together so many important healing tools as Changing Spirits. The Sweat Lodge allows the client to bring a sense of harmony and oneness with Spirit. Many of the clients use the time in the Sweat Lodge to sort out past and present issues that they hold deep inside. The Sweat Lodge c e r e m o n y also offers the clients a chance to witness other cultures in a safe Native setting. Changing Spirits is unique in using the Sweat Lodge in a positive manner. Not only teaching clients how to use the Sweat Lodge to help in their recovery but also how to use the Sweat Lodge as a tool for continual sobriety.


The Red Road


balance makes us ...whole


T H E FU T U RE From day one to graduation, every client is given a f ull intake session. During the intake, a client and assigned counselor will work on goals and other important pending issues. Such issues range f rom f amily situations, legal matters, health issues and f inancial obligations. Once a workable plan has been created with agreeable and obtainable steps to reach during the course of recovery, the client signs t h e pla n ag re e men t and is on the way to achieving and addressing many issues that have been neglected during the addiction. For many, it will be their first time using structure and a written plan to reach and complete their goals ‒ that once seemed unreachable. During the stay at Changing Spirits, the client will meet for a weekly one- onone with their assigned counselor.


AICS does exactly what we have been talking about ‒ we blend American Indian healing practices with traditional substance abuse treatment techniques such as motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy to provide a treatment regimen which re-introduces our clients to the roots of their cultural value system. Since opening our doors in 1999, we have served over 1,000 AI clients, many who have come from reservations throughout the Unites States. Our culturally relevant activities include: Sweat Lodge Ceremony •Talking Circle • Fire circle Process groups framed within the unique cultural beliefs and traditions of the American Indian peoples • An elected Resident Council as an integral part of planning and conducting both treatment activities and spiritual practices • Pow Wows • Drumming • Regalia • Traditional uses of plants • Traditional Native arts • Traditional Indian Silversmithing While we have historically been able to serve AIs from outside of Los Angeles County, recent funding restrictions and cuts have precluded us from providing service to those who are not Los Angeles County residents. So, we would like to provide an option for such services to Tribes through operational agreements. Our current cost of providing culturally relevant substance abuse treatment services is $110 per day. Residents tend to stay in service up to 120 days according the client’s needs evaluation.

For those tribes who wish to have ongoing access to our treatment services, we are proposing a simple “sponsor-a-

bed” strategy

“AICS does exactly what we have been talking about ‒”


Supporters of our program include:

County of Los Angeles Public Health Supbstance Abuse and Prevention Control and

For more information:

Changing Spirits Recovery Program 2120 W. Williams Street Bldg. #1 Long Beach, CA 90810-3635 Phone: (562) 388-8118 Fax: (562) 388-8117 Website: http://changingspirits.org/ Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/changing.spirits


American Indian Changing Spirits