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Opinion
Tim Giago: Fighting substance abuse at Pine Ridge


"Anpetu Luta Otipi gets as many as 900 referrals a year. Of those that are accepted into the program about 90 percent are considered residential patients. �All of our staff are certified alcohol and drug counselors and the biggest problem we face on this reservation is alcoholism,� Ms. [Terri] Blue said.

Because of space and funding shortages the program has alternating cycles of 30 days for the youth and 30 days for the adults in the residential program. Ms. Blue is particularly proud of the support given her program by the Lakota people in her community. �Our clients have to remain alcohol and substance free for one year before they can come to us and offer their help as volunteers,� she said.

But because the reservation is a small community patients often return to the same situations and lifestyles that brought them to the program in the first place. �Recidivism is very high, about 85 percent and we are really trying to create a new approach, a paradigm shift if you will,� Blue said.

The program has helped youngsters fighting alcohol related problems as young as 10-years-old. �We had to sneak in the 10-year-old�s, because the program is designed to help people from age 12 on up. Two thirds of our clients are male, but we do get a lot of women referred to us from the Department of Social Services. These women have been abused or have become alcohol and substance dependent and have lost custody of their children,� Blue said."

Get the Story:
Tim GiagoL Living in a Red Day (The Native American Times 5/1)

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