Create opportunities for holistic well-being.
Many Indigenous Peoples consider health and well-being in holistic terms, encompassing the mind, physical body, emotions, spirit, and connections among all living and non-living things (Bourke, 2018). Addressing opioid use issues in Indigenous communities must incorporate holistic health and healing. This can include efforts to address the Indigenous social determinants of health, such as access to cultural activities, physical activity, housing, nutritious and culturally-based food, and employment opportunities that support community healing and connections. This also involves taking into consideration the impacts of racism, discrimination, assimilation and historical trauma as a result of colonization on Indigenous people and communities’ health (Gameon & Skewes, 2021; Gonzelez, et al., 2022; Walters, et al., 2011). We know that the opioid crisis has impacts beyond the individual, and requires health services, social services, housing services, cultural supports, legal services, and more, to ensure that community members who use opioids and their family members are provided with the support they need.
“Address the whole person’s needs, not just one part.”
– Indigenous Advisory Committee
How can tribes adopt this principle?
1. When creating opioid use programming, education and resources, focus efforts across prevention, harm reduction and treatment.
Having multiple approaches to meet people where they are with their needs regarding their opioid use will offer many pathways for support along their healing journey. The following resources offer a range of services and provide models that tribes might choose to invest in. Under the Approved Uses, funding for transporting community members to treatment centers, investing in syringe service programs and education to prevent stigma are several activities in which a community may choose to invest in.
Some helpful examples can be found here.