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Old 12-25-2006, 12:15 PM   #1
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Unhappy Meth use is an epidemic in Osage Nation, tribal leaders say

Meth use is an epidemic in Osage Nation, tribal leaders say
Officials target drug linked to a number of problems on reservation.
By Christina Good Voice
The Associated Press - 25 December 2006
http://www.wfaa.com/sharedcontent/dw...1.3e24506.html

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK In the rural areas of the Osage Nation reservation, tribal officials say a silent epidemic is spreading, causing domestic abuse, child abuse, child neglect and an overall decline in the quality of life for some Osages.

Methamphetamine use is on the rise, and tribal leaders passed an anti-meth bill last month that would set minimum penalties for the use, possession and distribution of meth.

The bill is a starting point in the Osage Nation's battle against the "methamphetamine epidemic," Osage Congresswoman Debbie Littleton said. She said she has seen firsthand the effects of the drug on family members and, "it didn't seem like there was anything being done about it."

About 69.2 percent of the open Indian child welfare cases in the tribe are related to methamphetamine, said Lee Collins, director of social services for the Osage Nation. The tribe, which occupies Osage County in northeastern Oklahoma, has about 3,200 members living on its reservation.

Ms. Collins said the 2004 Oklahoma law that restricted access to products containing pseudoephedrine, a key meth ingredient, helped to bring down usage numbers on the reservation, but the trend has reversed as meth trafficking in the area has increased.


Hard addiction to kick

Even those who seek treatment for their addiction usually don't last and wind up back in the system, Ms. Collins said.

"I've worked with families [involved with meth], and in the past 11 years I've seen one mother get off meth and stay off," she said.

Other problems that go hand-in-hand with methamphetamine use are child neglect and abuse.

"People who have used meth don't supervise their children. They party, sleep, and their children are subject to things such as sexual abuse by strangers the parents have let stay at their homes," Ms. Collins said.

If all of Oklahoma's tribes would work together in applying for grants, they might be more successful in getting the funds to create two-year treatment programs, Ms. Collins said.

Right now the Osage Nation only has a 28-day treatment program that Ms. Collins said is insufficient for any meth addict. She said a true addict would need at least a two-year program to stay clean.

"It's not just tribes it's all of society," she said.


Other tribes' actions

Other tribes like the Cherokee Nation and the Choctaw Nation are working to get meth prevention grants to aid in their fight to keep the drug out.

The Cherokee Nation has received a $350,000 methamphetamine prevention grant that will be used to educate the community particularly the 16- to 20-year-olds about the drug.

B.J. Boyd, deputy director of Cherokee Nation Behavioral Health, said the tribe wants to help communities develop their own drug prevention plans and programs.

The Choctaw Nation is seeking funding for a meth prevention grant.

Gary Nunley, director of behavioral health for the Choctaw Nation, said the grant would help with prevention, treatment and recovery.

The tribe has a 30-day treatment facility, and 45 percent of those who enter the program have said meth is their drug of choice, Mr. Nunley said.

The Chi Hullo Li (We Care for You) center is a six-month facility for mothers who are seeking treatment but don't want to be separated from their children.

"Meth is highly addictive. It takes a toll on the whole body and results in a loss of job, family and finances," Mr. Nunley said. "It's a real serious problem."

He agreed that Indian tribes should work together on the issue to find a solution.

"We should be partnering more formally with other tribes across the country to see if we can't identify a solution and the practices that work," he said.
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