According to the 2013 American Community Survey, approximately 2.5 million people in the United States are American Indian or Alaska Native (0.8 percent of the U.S. population).1 In 2013, American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) had the highest rate of substance dependence or abuse compared with other racial groups.2 Substance use is linked to premature death and disease among AI/ANs, making it a major public health concern.3
According to the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), there were more than 1.7 million substance abuse treatment admissions in 2012. Of these, 2.5 percent (about 44,000 admissions) were AI/AN.4 About one-third (35.0 percent) of AI/AN admissions reported abuse of alcohol only, compared with about one-fifth (21.1 percent) of other admissions (Figure 1). Additionally, a higher percentage of AI/AN admissions than other admissions began using alcohol or drugs at age 11 or younger (17.3 vs. 10.0 percent, respectively; Figure 2).
|Substance of Abuse||American Indian/
|All other races|
|Alcohol and drugs||41.6%||35.1%|
|NOTE.—In 2012, 0.6 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native admissions and 0.9 percent of admissions of all other races did not report a substance of abuse. Therefore, the percentages do not sum 100 percent for each race category.|
|Age at Initiation||American Indian/
|All other races|
|11 or younger||17.3%||10.0%|
|12 to 17||62.8%||59.2%|
|18 to 24||15.6%||21.9%|
|25 to 34||3.1%||6.3%|
|35 or older||1.3%||2.6%|
|NOTE.—For drugs other than alcohol, age at initiation is the age of the first drug use. For alcohol, age at initiation is the age of the first intoxication.|
These data suggest that adding or expanding prevention efforts that focus on alcohol use and including outreach to children aged 11 or younger may help address substance use in AI/AN communities. For more information about prevention programming for AI/AN communities, see the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Tribal Training and Technical Assistance Center: http://www.samhsa.gov/tribal-ttac.