Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez met with officials from Community Bridges Inc. to hear updates on services they provide in addressing substance abuse and alcoholism.
Published June 13, 2018
WINDOW ROCK – The Ofsfice of the President and Vice President (OPVP) is working to expand the availability of rehabilitation treatment services offered on the Navajo Nation.
“There is a need for more local treatment centers that provide specialized care to our people,” President Russell Begaye said. “We need an integrated health model that includes all levels of service as well as a traditional services model.”
Addiction, alcoholism and substance abuse disorder rates among Native American communities, including those on the Navajo Nation, are disproportionate when compared with other racial groups in the United States.
“Many of our people have a hard time with successful treatment when they face language barriers and a lack of options to switch between Medical Assisted Treatment (MAT) and traditional services,” Vice President Jonathan Nez said.
Vice President Nez said the newly renamed Division of Behavioral and Mental Health Services (DBMHS) is preparing for the opioid epidemic that is spreading across the country.
In January, the Navajo Nation Council approved a plan of operation, officially changing the name of the Department of Behavioral Health Service to DBMHS. This new division will focus on comprehensive, culturally centered, holistic approaches to prevention, treatment and aftercare of alcohol, controlled substance use disorder and violent behavior through an integrated behavior and mental health system.
“We know the Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) is growing among tribal nations,” Vice President Nez said. “DBMHS is formulating a program to prepare to treat this epidemic.”
Across the Navajo Nation, localized rehabilitation or detox services aren’t readily available, making it difficult for those who seek these services. OPVP is currently assessing existing facilities that could serve as treatment centers and provide all levels of services to address substance abuse and alcoholism.
Currently, residential, outpatient treatment services and detox services are contracted by the Navajo Nation, through organizations like Community Bridges Inc. (CBI) in Payson and Winslow. CBI is one of many facilities the Nation contracts with.
The vice president visited both the Payson and Winslow CBI facilities on Thursday, Jun. 7. He encouraged those who are seeking rehabilitation to be resilient in spirit and take recovery one day at a time.
“We need to partner with service providers to get a facility up and running,” he said. “We need to come together in developing a facility and project to heal our people who suffer from alcoholism and substance abuse.”