“Save your Brain, Abstain” 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 addressing 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 go into adulthood experiencing depression, becoming alcoholics, drug users, engaging in unsafe sex and exposure to potential STDS and unwanted pregnancies…the consequences for juvenile 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, cognitive abilities, attention span and overall judgment. It also is linked to depression and increased suicidal thoughts and behaviors. It is difficult to keep our youth from being exposed to substance use, but the sad fact is societal norms, social media, peer pressure, and party culture among young adults perpetuates the increase of many forming substance use disorders. Our campaigns objective is to educate and promote youth to abstain from substance use and encourage pursuing their passions and seeking a “natural high”.
According to American Addiction Centers, it is estimated that there are 5.6 million Native Americans (classified as American Indian and Alaska 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 violence, domestic violence, and sexual assault).
· High levels of unemployment.
· Lack of health insurance.
· Low levels of attained education.
Native Americans are also at an increased risk for several health issues such as:
· Mental illness and suicide.
· Unintentional injuries.
· Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
· Teenage pregnancy.
· Heart disease.
· Liver disease.
It is our goal to continue and create new prevention efforts that focus on educating and empowering these young people to deter them from becoming another statistic and 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 problem 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.