National Indian Women's

Health Resource Center

Celebrating Native People's Health and Well-Being


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Save your Brain, Abstain

This is a prevention advertising campaign created by National Indian Women’s Health Resource Center. Our agency is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The ad campaign targets Native American youth and young adults (not exclusively) and their caregivers. Save your Brain, Abstain addresses underage and binge drinking, substance abuse, sexual and mental health, and suicide. There is a statistical link for youth experimenting with alcohol and other substances that lead to other life consequences besides the obvious health risks associated with frequent substance use.

Youth who engage in substance use such as drinking are more likely to experience depression, addiction, engage in unsafe sex and risk exposure to STDS and unwanted pregnancies. The consequences for adolescent substance use can be detrimental to their livelihood. Substance use by minors affects the structure and function of the brain, which can lead to academic problems, decline in memory, impact cognitive abilities, attention span and overall judgment. It is also linked to high rates of depression and increased suicidal thoughts and behaviors. It is difficult to keep our youth from being exposed to substance use and the sad fact is societal norms, social media, peer pressure, and party culture among young adults perpetuates the increase of forming substance use disorders. Our campaign objective is to educate and promote youth to abstain from substance use and encourage pursuing their passions. Rather, seeking a “Natural High” from doing things they enjoy, like skateboarding, photography, or any activity that releases the natural feel-good chemicals in your brain like dopamine, which regulates movement, emotion, motivation, and pleasure.

Our project focuses on serving Native American populations and the communities where they work and live. According to American Addiction Centers, it is estimated that there are 5.6 million Native Americans (classified as American Indian and Alaskan Native alone or in combination with one or more other races) living in the United States, comprising 1.7% of the total population. While Native Americans account for only a small part of the U.S. population, these people experience much higher rates of substance abuse compared to other racial and ethnic groups. 

Some of the factors that contribute to the increased risk of addiction among Native Americans include:

·         Historical trauma. 

·         Violence (including high levels of gang, domestic, & sexual violence).

·         Poverty.

·         High levels of unemployment.

·         Discrimination.

·         Racism.

·         Lack of health insurance.

·         Low levels of attained education.

Native Americans are also at an increased risk for health issues such as:

·         Mental illness and suicide.

·         Unintentional injuries.

·         Obesity.

·         Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

·         Teenage pregnancy.

·         Diabetes.

·         Heart disease.

·         Cancer.

·         Stroke.

·         Liver disease.

·         Hepatitis.

·         Tuberculosis.

It is our goal to continue creating new prevention efforts that focus on education and empowering young people to deter them from becoming a statistic experiencing a life of hardships. Preventing and delaying substance use for as long as possible, along with addressing any underlying risk factors, are important ways to reduce the likelihood of problematic substance use. Fostering your child’s coping skills, mental health and relationships, along with keeping them safe, can serve as protective factors.

For more information and resources, check out the rest of our website and the links listed above or call us at (918)456-6094.

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