Preventing Rx Drug Abuse in Tribal Communities

By Dr. Elaine Davidson
Prescription drug abuse is not only a concern nationally, but is particularly high in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. As nonmedical use of prescription medications continues to rise, along with heroin use, many tribal communities are looking for ways to address this growing problem.
At Indian Health Council, Inc., we have implemented a multidisciplinary approach to address the issue within our local community. In our Workshop at the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit (3-5 pm on Monday, April 17), we intend to share the journey we have taken to develop this comprehensive program to empower our community members to thrive despite their battles with chronic pain.
The Indian Health Council has accomplished this aim by mobilizing many resources, including behavioral health counseling (both individual and group), nutritional support, physical activity, acupuncture, and chiropractic care as an adjunct to the usual diagnostic methods of modern medicine.  We called upon research and community outreach to assist us in creating an institutional policy change toward the safe prescribing of opioids. An interdepartmental collaboration was formed to merge ideas and take appropriate action to reduce the incidence and tendency of prescription drug abuse in our service population.
This workshop will highlight the challenges, the accomplishments and the future goals that this collaboration has launched in our community and how we have optimized resources to address the opioid epidemic.
Dr. Elaine Davidson is the Pain Management Program Coordinator for the Indian Health Council, Inc., located in Valley Center, CA.