Ask an Expert: Culturally relevant substance use interventions for First Nations, Metis, and Inuit communities – The Caring Society

November, 2023

Increasing rates of substance use, such as cannabis use and opioid use, along with rapidly growing First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) populations have created an urgent public health situation in Canada that necessitates effective prevention and intervention strategies to reduce the harms associated with substance use disorders (SUDs) for FNMI peoples.

SUD, commonly known as addiction, refers to the persistent or problematic use of psychoactive substances (e.g. drugs, alcohol, tobacco) despite continued negative consequences. There is a disproportionate burden of substance use problems and poorer outcomes associated with SUDs among FMNI peoples, caused by intergenerational effects of colonialism, racism, residential school experiences and other discriminatory policies. However, FNMI populations have remained understudied in substance use treatment research, resulting in significant levels of unmet need for treatment and a lack of effective intervention strategies and treatment availability to reduce this burden. Moreover, there is debate as to whether interventions should follow traditional Western treatment approaches or whether they need to be adapted to be more culturally appropriate and effective.

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