NIDA Contest Entry

Alicia, Hannah, Kiera & Chenoa

Combating Substance Misuse with Indigenous Tradition

Alicia Gallegos-20, Hannah Naljahih-20, Kiera Toya-21, Chenoa Scippio-22

Our names are Alicia Gallegos, Hannah Naljahih, Chenoa Scippio, and Kiera Toya, we are all currently undergraduate students at the University of New Mexico. As college students, we make an active effort to still engage and participate in our respective communities as well as the local Albuquerque community. This past year the four of us took up leadership roles with the Native Health Initiative where we promoted health and wellness for Native Peoples, especially youth.

The framework we will be using for this project is mindful awareness. A study done by Riggs & Greenberg (2019) found that there is potential for mindful awareness to prevent youth substance misuse. Mindful awareness is a form of non-reactive attention which allows for individuals to observe their own feelings and thoughts (e.g., craving, loneliness, anger, social desirability) and facilitates their capacity to self-regulate responses to discomfort and arousal by non-reactive, rather than impulsive, means (e.g., substance use).

Our project will include a three-day community-based intervention. Each day will focus on a different Indigenous culture in New Mexico (Apache, Pueblo, and Navajo) and youth will hear from elders and prominent community members and have an opportunity to practice mindful awareness and traditional forms of art while learning how to recognize when they are feeling stressed. Mindful awareness plus a culturally significant component will assist youth in choosing a productive way to use their stressful feelings rather than choosing to use substances or alcohol. This program will be open to all youth, regardless of ethnic background, because we recognize that there are youth of all backgrounds who might be struggling with substance use, and we would like everyone to have the same opportunity to learn about alternative choices.

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