Not Just the End of the Trail: Program Brings Hope to Alaskan Villagers Battling Substance Abuse

The Norton Sound Health Corporation (an Alaskan Native health care organization) provided training in substance abuse counseling and prevention to paraprofessional, village-based counselors.

The training was to prepare counselors to work with their home villages in finding solutions to problems of alcoholism, inhalant abuse, suicide and other issues.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) national program, Healthy Nations®: Reducing Substance Abuse Among Native Americans.

Key Results

The village-based counselors:

  • Helped plan and carry out several youth culture camps. Five villages coordinated youth camps, where participants learned about subsistence hunting, gathering, storing of foods and other traditional skills.
  • Helped form support groups in villages, such as a women's wellness group and youth groups. In one village, a counselor started a women's sewing group. In the course of conversation while sewing with the women, the counselor brought up issues about substance abuse.
  • Coordinated a weekly Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) teleconference, which has had 6 to 15 call-ins from various villages each week. The teleconference meetings were an alternative to holding AA meetings in each village, which had been tried before and failed.