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Culturally tailored substance use interventions for Indigenous people of North America: a systematic review

Ariel M.S. Richer (School of Social Work, Columbia University, New York City, New York, USA)
Ariel L. Roddy (Department of Sociology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA)

The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice

ISSN: 1755-6228

Article publication date: 18 August 2022

Issue publication date: 2 January 2023




The purpose of the current study is to conduct a systematic review of peer-reviewed work on culturally tailored interventions for alcohol and drug use in Indigenous adults in North America. Substance use has been reported as a health concern for many Indigenous communities. Indigenous groups experienced the highest drug overdose death rates in 2015, the largest percentage increase in the number of deaths over time from 1999 to 2015 compared to any other racial group. However, few Indigenous individuals report participating in treatment for alcohol or drug use, which may reflect the limited engagement that Indigenous groups have with treatment options that are accessible, effective and culturally integrative.


Electronic searches were conducted from 2000 to April 21, 2021, using PsycINFO, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, MEDLINE and PubMed. Two reviewers classified abstracts for study inclusion, resulting in 18 studies.


Most studies were conducted in the USA (89%). Interventions were largely implemented in Tribal/rural settings (61%), with a minority implemented in both Tribal and urban contexts (11%). Study samples ranged from 4 to 742 clients. Interventions were most often conducted in residential treatment settings (39%). Only one (6%) intervention focused on opioid use among Indigenous people. Most interventions addressed the use of both drugs and alcohol (72%), with only three (17%) interventions specifically intended to reduce alcohol use.


The results of this research lend insight into the characteristics of culturally integrative treatment options for Indigenous groups and highlight the need for increased investment in research related to culturally tailored treatment across the diverse landscape of Indigenous populations.



The authors would like to thank Dr Aimee Campbell and Dr Louisa Gilbert for their meaningful contributions to previous versions of this article.

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health under award number 1F31MD017132. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


Richer, A.M.S. and Roddy, A.L. (2023), "Culturally tailored substance use interventions for Indigenous people of North America: a systematic review", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp. 60-77.



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