Native Americans and Ritalin Use

Native Americans and Ritalin Use

Prescription drug abuse increasingly impacts families of every background across the United States. The number of people abusing prescription drugs far surpasses the number of people using illicit drugs, such as cocaine and heroin. Far from immune to this sweeping epidemic, communities of Native Americans are even more susceptible to the abuse of prescription drugs like Ritalin than any other group in the country. Results from a study on national teen drug use show that Native American teens have elevated odds of substance-related disorders.

Many people know of the alcoholism problem plaguing Native American communities, but not many people know that prescription stimulant abuse greatly affects these groups. A National Study on Drug Use and Health from 2005 reports that of the six ethnic groups profiled in the study, Native Americans had the second highest rate of stimulant use, second only to whites.

Why Native Americans Abuse Prescription Stimulants

Ritalin is a prescription drug classified as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. It is used to treat attention disorders and certain sleeping disorders, such as narcolepsy. Unfortunately, many people use it without a prescription as a performance enhancer or weight loss drug or as a way to improve their mood. Stimulants increase alertness and give users energy, generating a high that improves users’ sense of wellbeing.

Many urban and reservation American Indians struggle with stimulant use. Some of the factors that affect Native American drug use include the following:

  • Many Native American groups have a cultural background of socially acceptable and even religious drug abuse. Native Americans have smoked peyote, a plant with psychoactive effects, for thousands of years in prayer rituals. Historical factors, such as the introduction of alcohol to their communities by way of European settlers, have also influenced the current inclination toward substance abuse.
  • While little genetic research has been carried out, many researchers believe that the metabolic rates of Native Americans differ from those of other ethnic groups and make them more inclined to use alcohol irresponsibly. Alcoholism is a rampant problem in many Native American communities, and substance abuse of any kind can lead to abuse of other substances. For instance, individuals who have seen the effects of alcoholism on their family or those who fear being stereotyped by society may partake of stimulants like Ritalin instead.
  • Drug abuse has always been associated with emotional pain. Many people use it as a way to self-medicate depression. Child neglect, violence, poverty, and other issues in many Native American communities influence the use of drugs like Ritalin.

These factors play a role in the high rate of Ritalin abuse in Native American communities.

Treatment for Ritalin Addiction

Certain treatment programs are tailored to cater to the specific needs of Native Americans, taking cultural issues into account while offering comprehensive treatment. Access to American Indian Recovery (AAIR) helps make treatment like this available for Native Americans who struggle with Ritalin addiction or addiction to other substances.

Help for Ritalin Addiction

If you or a loved one is addicted to Ritalin, call our toll-free helpline to speak with an admissions coordinator about your treatment options. We are available 24 hours a day to help you find the treatment plan that suits your individual needs. Please call today.