Drug use among two American Indian populations: Prevalence of lifetime use and DSM-IV substance use disorders

Christina M. Mitchell, Janette Beals, Douglas K. Novins, Paul Spicer, Cecelia Big Crow, Dedra Buchwald, Buck Chambers, Michelle Christensen, Denise Dillard, Karen DuBray, Paula Espinoza, Candace Fleming, Ann Wilson Frederick, Joe Gone, Diana Gurley, Lori Jervis, Shirlene Jim, Carol Kaufman, Ellene Keane, Suzell KleinDenise Lee, Spero Manson, Monica McNulty, Denise Middlebrook, Laurie Moore, Tilda Nez, Ilena Norton, Theresa O'Nell, Heather Orton, Carlette Randall, Angela Sam, James Shore, Sylvia Simpson, Lorette Yazzie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


American Indians (AIs) have often reported higher rates of drug use than have other racial/ethnic groups. However, the majority of these studies have focused on drug use among high school adolescents, with little attention to pathological use such as drug abuse or dependence. This study is among the first to report lifetime drug use and disorder (abuse/dependence) information from community samples of two culture groups of AI people - one in the Southwest (SW), one in the Northern Plains (NP) - ranging in age from 15 to 57 years old. Analyses were conducted within four groups: SW men, SW women, NP men, and NP women. Across the four groups, lifetime use rates for marijuana (36.9-57.5%), cocaine (4.3-21.5%), and inhalants (3.6-17.0%) were the highest drug use rates; heroin (0.5-2.1%), the lowest. Lifetime drug disorder rates were highest for marijuana (4.5-14.1%), cocaine (1.1-2.3%), and stimulants (0.7-1.7%). Lifetime polydrug use disorder rates from 1.2 to 4.5%. Women generally had lower prevalence rates than did men in their culture group. The SW women generally had the lowest rates of use and disorder. Lifetime use and disorder rates among the youngest group were often not different from rates of the older groups. Overall, 40-60% had never used any drugs; 85-95% had not developed any drug disorder. Despite widespread concern and rhetoric about drug problems among AIs, many who had used various drugs either were using them without serious consequences or had quit use altogether.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-41
Number of pages13
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 24 2003


  • American Indian
  • Community prevalence
  • Polydrug use and disorders
  • Substance use
  • Substance use disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Drug use among two American Indian populations: Prevalence of lifetime use and DSM-IV substance use disorders'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this