Addictions & Substance Abuse

Inuit communities and regional governments and organizations have noted that alcohol and drug abuse and misuse are priority problems. Binge drinking, which is the most common form of problem-drinking in Inuit areas, is a major factor in violence, accidents and injuries, employment and family problems, and so on. News stories from the North tell us that drugs such as marijuana, crack cocaine and crystal meth are being used more often and by younger people, which is a cause for concern.

Promising Programs and Initiatives in Inuit Communities

There are efforts taking place at the community level to help individuals, families and communities deal with substance use and abuse. Examples include addictions counselling services, self-help groups, sports and recreation activities, cultural programs, and treatment centres.

Inuit Tuttarvingat, working with consultant Leesie Naqitarvik, selected several alcohol and drug-related programs to highlight. These programs are either geared to Inuit, or have incorporated Aboriginal perspectives into their programs. Others, while not Inuit-specific, provide information that may be of interest to Inuit working in addictions.

Through phone and e-mail, Leesie Naqitarvik interviewed staff and program managers about the services they provide, the programs’ accomplishments and strengths, some barriers they have faced, and what advice they can offer to others working in addictions and wellness. We can see through the following interviews that these efforts are having a positive effect on the well-being of Inuit and our communities:

Aboriginal Healing Foundation Program
Category: Addictions Counselling
Sponsoring organization: Inuvialuit Regional Corporation
Community: Ulukhaktok, NWT
Started: 2004. Completed: March 31, 2010
Interview with Annie Goose of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation Program >>
Hopedale Treatment Services
Category: Day-treatment Centre
Sponsoring organization: Health and Social Development Department, Nunatsiavut Government
Community: Hopedale, Labrador
Started: August 2009
Interview with Ginette Chouinard of Hopedale Treatment Services >>
RCMP Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E) Program
Category: School Program (prevention)
Sponsoring organization: RCMP
Community: Nain, Labrador
Started: 2007
Interview with Sergeant Cal Barter of the R.C.M.P in Nain >>
Iqaluit Al-Anon and ACA (Adults Children of Alcoholics)
Category: Group Program
Sponsoring organization: Joanne Ashley (registered with Al-Anon World Service Organization)
Community: Iqaluit, Nunavut
Started: September 2008
Interview with Joanne Ashley of Al-Anon >>
Kugluktuk Alcohol and Drug Counselling
Category: Prevention/Counselling
Sponsoring organization: Kugluktuk Wellness Centre
Community: Kugluktuk, Nunavut
Interview with the Alcohol and Drug Counselling Program >>
Spousal Abuse Prevention Program
Category: Prevention Program
Sponsoring organization: Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre
Community: Rankin Inlet, Nunavut
Started: 2002-2003
Interview with Emiline Kowmuk of the Spousal Abuse Prevention Program: >>
Mamisarvik Healing Centre
Category: Residential Treatment Centre
Sponsoring organization: Tungasuvvingat Inuit
Community: Ottawa, ON
Started: 2003
Interview with Pam Stellick, Director of the Mamisarvik Healing Centre >>
Heritage Home Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre
Category: Residential Treatment Centre
Sponsoring organization: Heritage Home Foundation
Community: Godmanchester, Quebec
Started: 2005
Interview with Sky Bellefleur, Native Spiritual Counsellor at Heritage Home Treatment Centre >>
Kainaiwa Adolescent Treatment Centre
Category: Prevention and Intervention
Sponsoring organization: National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program
Community: Standoff, Alberta
Interview with Kainaiwa Adolescent Treatment Centre >>
FACE (Facing Alcohol Concerns Through Education; now referred to as FACE)
Category: Prevention and Training and Resources
Community: United States
Started: 1989
Interview with Daniel Varner of the FACE Organization >>