101 Native American Substance Abuse & Mental Health Resources

Luke Prest Terri Beth Miller
Calendar icon Last Updated: 04/15/2024

Reading Time: 16 minutes

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101 Native American Substance Abuse & Mental Health Resources

Substance abuse presents a serious problem for Native Americans in the U.S., thanks in large part to disparities like isolation, poverty, and lack of healthcare resources. This article provides a detailed look at the unique characteristics of the Native American community, including the overall impact of substance abuse and mental health. You’ll also find a wealth of supportive mental health resources and addiction treatment options available to Native Americans.

Addiction and Mental Health in the Native American Community

Native American student

Addiction is a chronic health disorder impacting one in 14 Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While addiction and alcoholism can affect people from any walk of life, there are some populations at a greater risk, such as Native Americans.

American Indian and Alaska Natives (Native Americans) face greater health disparities, including chronic stress, diabetes, addiction, accidents, mental health and suicide.

Perhaps most significant in Native American alcohol abuse statistics, is that this population is much more likely to need treatment for substance use, and they are five times more likely than white people to die of alcohol-related causes.

Risk Factors for Substance Abuse in Native American Communities

According to the latest census data, there are 2.9 million people in the United States who identify as Native American, which accounts for just under 10 percent of the U.S. population. However, rates of Native American drug and alcohol abuse are disproportionately high.

The underlying causes leading to health disparities among Native Americans are complex. However, significant research of this population points to several unique risk factors including:

  • Historical trauma: European colonization caused significant emotional and psychological injury (trauma) on generations of Native American tribes and their descendants. As Native Americans were forcefully colonized, they were exposed to extreme violence, trauma, and loss. They lost their cultural identity, their children were forcefully removed from their homes, and they lost their home and rights to their land.
  • Current trauma: Traumatic histories often led to the loss of traditional native practices around families and relationships, causing poor health in parents and children, low self-esteem, depression, unresolved grief, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, domestic violence, and high rates of suicide.
  • Environment: Living on a reservation may increase the risk of higher rates of drug and alcohol use among teens.
  • Low levels of education: Native Americans have less educational attainment compared to white Americans, which is linked to a greater risk of substance abuse, especially in rural areas.

Native American Addiction and Mental Health Statistics

Addiction and mental illness are some of the major long-term causes for concern for Native Americans, with rates often exceeding all other racial and ethnic demographics in the United States. Despite accounting for less than 10 percent of the US population, Native Americans have a lower life expectancy than other racial categories in America.

In the next few sections, we provide Native American mental health statistics, facts about Native American drug use history, and data showing the prevalence of alcoholism among Native Americans.

Various national agencies, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Indian Health Service, have been collecting and analyzing information about Native American substance use, alcoholism, and addiction for many years. We’ve summarized this information into sections below.

Native American Alcohol Abuse Statistics

Native American FamilyAlcoholism is recognized as the number one health problem for Native Americans. While rates of alcohol and drug use vary across tribes, members of Southwest reservations showed higher risks of alcohol dependence.

Overall, some key alcohol statistics show that Native Americans:

  • Use alcohol at higher rates
  • 1 percent have an alcohol use disorder
  • Are five times more likely to die of alcohol-related causes
  • Have the highest rates of neonatal abstinence syndrome, with rates as high as 1.5-2.5 per 1,000 births
  • 50 of 100,000 Native American deaths are alcohol-induced

Native American Substance Abuse Statistics

Like alcohol use, substance use, experimentation, and rates of substance abuse and addiction, are higher compared to other racial and ethnic groups in the United States. While drug use varies among tribes, members of Northern Plain tribes are at a higher risk of alcohol and drug abuse.

Native American Mental Health Statistics

While Native Americans make up approximately 10 percent of the US population, they are disproportionately impacted by mental illness compared to other racial and ethnic groups. As we mentioned above, Native Americans face unique risk factors — such as multigenerational trauma, poverty, and higher levels of substance abuse and addiction — which are thought to also cause significant mental health concerns.


This section contains helpful resources, such as information about Native American drug and alcohol treatment centers, how to receive eligible services, support groups, free mental health resources, suicide prevention information, and lots of free resources.

Native American Crisis Chat Lines & Help Lines

These crisis resources are a list of helplines that provide advice, support, and resources for Native Americans in crisis. Many of these resources are available to discuss mental health, addiction, and other types of crises,

  • Strong Hearts Native Helpline: 24-hour support provides confidential and anonymous advice for Native Americans experiencing domestic violence and dating violence. Call 844-762-8483
  • Lifeline Chat: 24-hour secure and confidential emotional support for those who are unable to call or prefer to communicate via chat/text.
  • Crisis Text Line: 24/7 support. Text “HOME” to 741741 – or message on WhatsApp
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 24-hour support with a trained crisis counselor. Call 1-800-273-8255
  • Deaf and hard of hearing support:
    • Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 24-hour support. Text “HEARME” to 839863
    • Deaf LEAD: 24-hour crisis line: VP – 321-800-3323 // or text “HAND” to 839863
  • Disaster and Distress Helpline: 24-hour national helpline providing immediate crisis counseling related to any natural or human-caused disaster 1-800-846-8517
  • Crisis Line for Racial Equity Support: BIPOC support available for BIPOC people feeling the impacts of racism, violence, and immigration struggles. Monday to Friday from 10am -7pm PST. Call 503-575-3764
  • Teen Line: Highly trained teen listeners to provide support, resources, and hope to any teen struggling nationwide, during 6pm-10pm PST, and 6pm-10pm for the text line. Call 1-800-852-8336 // or text TEEN to 839863.
  • SAMHSA – National helpline: 24-hr treatment referral and information service for individuals and families facing mental health and/or substance use disorders. Call 1-800-662-4357 // visit the online treatment locator //or text your zip code to 435748 to find help near you.
  • Didi Hirsch’s Suicide Prevention Center: Multilingual 24/7 crisis line: 1-800-273-8255
  • The Trevor Project: 24-hour support by trained counselors for LGBTQ Youth. Call 1-866-488-7386 // Text “START” to 678-678
  • Military/Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 // Text line: 838255 //Confidential chat at MilitaryCrisisLine.net

Native American Mental Health Support Organizations

The following organizations, nonprofits, and foundations provide mental health resources, education, research, technical assistance, health information, training, and support for Native Americans.

Native American Substance Abuse and Drug and Alcohol Treatment Resources

Native American Support Groups

  • Wellbriety, hosted by White Bison is a mutual-aid support meeting that provides culturally based healing to Indigenous People across America and Canada. You can attend meetings in-person and online.​
  • Recovery Dharma (BIPOC Only group): A Buddhist-inspired recovery support group that hosts meetings specifically for BIPOC, and BIPOC LGBTQ2S folks.
  • You Are Not Alone Network: Not a support group exactly, but an online community for people struggling with and recovering from mental health issues.

Resources for Native American Youth and Students

There are a range of resources and organizations dedicated to providing Native American Youth with resources to support their mental and physical well-being, including:

Native American Scholarships and Financial Aid

  • Native American Aid provides financial aid, in the form of resources, to families in poverty, the elderly, and those in crisis.
  • One Sky Center offers a list of scholarships for mental health and addiction treatment.
  • American Indian College Fund provides resources for Native American youth to seek higher education.

Native American Parent and Family Mental Health Resources

In addition to the above resources, Circles of Care is a SAMHSA’s initiative led by the Tribal Training and Technical Assistance Center that supports Native American families struggling with mental illness.

Native American Veteran Resources

There are several Native American Veteran resources available for veterans and their families, including:

Native American LGBTQ2S Resources

The following resources are specifically designed for Native Americans who hold a LGBTQ2S identity.

Additional Native American Mental Health Resources

Here you will find a range of Native American podcasts, videos, links to inspiring social media influencers, articles, and webinars on mental health and intersecting issues.

Native American Podcasts

  • What’s Culture Got to Do with It?: For Native American children and families, addressing how to craft culturally responsive child welfare and child protection services.
  • Native American Ellen Blackcloud: A podcast about the traumatic experiences of growing up as a Native American and how getting sober became a catalyst for healing.
  • All My Relations: A podcast led by two Indigenous hosts who discuss their relationships with the land, and each other, and the intersections of mental health.
  • Indian Relay: A Wind River Reservation podcast, about addiction and recovery resources for Wind River Reservation residents.
  • Wellness for Culture: Discusses how to live social justice wellness for Indigenous communities.
  • Two Spirit Talks: A storytelling podcast that centers and uplifts Two Spirit voices

Native American Social Media Influencers

  • Txai Suruí @txaisurui – Indigenous climate activist
  • Tukumã Pataxó @tukuma_pataxo – Shares his experiences living in Brazil as a member of the Pataxó tribe
  • Autumn Peltier @peltier – A global water activist and member of the Wikwemikong First Nations community
  • Sarain Fox @sarainfox – A Canadian storyteller who hosts RISE on Viceland. She is passionate about empowering Indigenous communities and amplifying their voices.
  • Quannah Chasinghorse @rose – An indigenous model that honors her heritage
  • James Jones @notoriouscree – Brings Indigenous dancing to the masses
  • Samela Awiá @sam_sateremawe – An activist part of Fridays for Future Brasil

Native American Videos

Native American Articles

Native American Websites

Native American Books

This recommended reading list contains books by Native American authors about Indian issues:

You can also access a detailed health-related list of books via the Indigenous website, Wellness For Culture.

Native American Presentations, Reports, and Publications



Medical Reviewer
Luke Prest, MD
Board Certified Pediatrician
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Luke Prest, MD, is a board-certified Pediatrician who provides comprehensive care, including management of mental health conditions, to children and adolescents. Through his medical training, he developed a deep understanding of the diagnosis, treatment, and management of various disorders, and remains committed to staying up-to-date with the latest medical advances and best practices in medicine.
Terri Beth Miller, PhD
Author, Award-Winning Post-Secondary Teacher
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Terri Beth Miller holds a PhD in English and has 10+ years of award-winning post-secondary teaching experience, including 7+ years in e-learning/online environments. She specializes in teaching non-traditional and at-risk student populations, including active military, addicted populations, working adults, ESL, and first-generation students.