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J Ethn Subst Abuse. 2019 Nov 5:1-35. doi: 10.1080/15332640.2019.1679317. [Epub ahead of print]

What is known about treatment aimed at indigenous people suffering from alcohol use disorder?

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University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark.


Background: Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a destructive and serious problem among indigenous populations around the world. The drinking pattern differs from the non-indigenous populations by being short-term risky drinking such as binge drinking. In general, the treatment offered is based on conventional western strategies, though, in many regions' treatment facilities are poor. The present review summarizes the researched possibilities for alcohol treatment specific to indigenous populations. Method: A systematic search in four databases, Pubmed, Psyinfo, Cochcrane and Cinahl within the past ten years identified 19 articles that investigate the effect of different approaches to treat indigenous people with AUD. Result: Several studies suggest implementing native and traditional ways of healing in the treatment. Community-driven approaches have shown effect in the reduction of AUD among indigenous youth, as well as a web based brief intervention, motivational interviewing, and alcohol restrictions. Also, naltrexone as firstline medical treatment is suggested. Discussion and conclusion: In general, the studies included have a moderate to low quality and are difficult to compare but can provide an overview of elements that seem important in the treatment of indigenous people. There is a lack of research of both conventional treatment and treatment specific tailored to indigenous populations. The latter specifically minded to community prevention, the involvement of local people and implementing cultural traditions and healing methods and rebuilding native identity, seems as important elements in future treatment and prevention strategies.


AUD; Alcohol use disorder; binge drinking; indigenous people; natives; treatment

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