Voices of Native Youth

Did You Know Alcohol is Bad for Native Americans?

A high school student looks at the reasons why Native Americans should stay away from alcohol. It's great advice whether you're Native or not! #alcoholism #drinking #bingedrinking #nativeyouth #nativeamerican

Have you ever lost a family member to alcohol, whether from death or ruined relationships?

Let me tell you what it’s like when people you love drink. I have relatives who “enjoy” drinking. I always say to myself, “maybe if I do something they will stop.” But most of the time, they both start to get mad at each other for something and then a fight happens. Alcohol is bad for Native Americans because it’s very risky, it causes serious health problems, and can really affect your future. 

Risky Business

The risks Natives take is more definite than a non-native. According to the National Congress of American Indians, 510% more Native American people die from alcohol-related causes more than any other ethnic group in the United States.

A high school student looks at the reasons why Native Americans should stay away from alcohol. It's great advice whether you're Native or not! #alcoholism #drinking #bingedrinking #nativeyouth #nativeamerican

These facts and statistics are born out in my family. About one-fourth of my family have died from an alcohol-related cause. The two leading causes of alcohol related deaths among Native Americans were traffic accidents and alcoholic liver disease.

If you are Native and you consider yourself an “alcoholic” there is one in two chance that you could die from an alcohol-related cause. Overall, Native Americans have a higher chance of dying from alcohol.

Alcohol is bad for Native Americans (and everyone else) because it causes serious health problems. Drinking alcohol causes your stomach to produce more acid than usual. According to webmd.com, acid reflux symptoms include bloating, bloody vomiting, burping, and dysphasia (a narrowing in the esophagus, which creates the sensation of food being stuck in your throat).

The worst disease you could get while drinking alcohol would be liver disease. There are 20,000 US cases of liver cirrhosis per year. According to a study by Elliot B. Tapper, through 2008, cirrhosis death rates among Native Americans were steady year to year. Starting 2009, the rate increased by four percent annually. Ten point six per 100,000 Non-Hispanic white people die from chronic liver disease and cirrhosis deaths as compared to 24.2 per 100,000 Native Americans.

That’s one-fourth the population of Native Americans. In other words drinking could lead to health problems which could lead to death if not treated. 

Alcohol: The Dream Snatcher

Alcohol has negative affects on Native Americans because it can derail their dreams. My math teacher, a Navajo, tells about his experience with alcohol. “As soon as I started drinking my life fell apart.” After making many mistakes and detours, he was able to remember that at one point, he had a plan. “I had goals, so I was able to get out of that slump I was in.”

Alcohol also prevents people from getting somewhere in life. Physical problems, losing your job, relational problems, or an argument with a family member could cause you to drink. An article in Partnership with Native Americans talks the consequences of alcohol use: domestic violence, health disparities, rape/sexual assault, dropout, and suicide.

Alcohol is snatching the dreams of Native Americans. It's time to fight back. #nativeyouth Click To Tweet

Drinking destroys relationships and friendships with good people, but it also creates toxic friendship and relationships. Choosing the wrong crowd can affect how you concentrate and it can get in the way of your personal goals. Overall, drinking alcohol causes relationships, friendships and your life to fall apart.

Alcoholic beverages are bad for Native Americans. Native Americans are more likely to be diagnosed with alcohol-related disease or could die from alcohol. Most deaths and health problems Natives get are caused by alcohol. Friendships, relationships, and your life could fall apart from drinking a sip of alcohol. Therefore, because I am Native American, I know what alcohol is capable of doing to my life.

Laqueta is half Navajo and half Pueblo. She loves to listen to music. When she’s not listening to her favorite artists, she hangs out with friends or plays sports. She spends most of her time trapped in a classroom.

11 thoughts on “Did You Know Alcohol is Bad for Native Americans?

  1. I have loved ones who have been sucked in by alcohol and for every one of them I know it’s the pain in their lives that keep them going back to the bottle. I’ve prayed for them and continue to pray for them because outside of God’s help, there’s not much hope. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Well said! Great article! Thanks for sharing. My Grandfather had 3 types of Native American, I’m not sure how much though I think he was near half. Anyway he died from liver disease. Good info to know. Many Thanks 8)

  3. Thank you for sharing this, Laqueta. It’s really sad that alcohol kills so many wonderful people every year. Even sadder to consider that Native Americans are more at risk, especially when colonizers are the ones who introduced them to alcohol! The effects have lasted generations.

  4. Laqueta,
    Thank you so much for for writing this article. I can see that you did a lot of research looking into how deeply alcohol affects the Native American community. Hearing stories of people in your life affected by alcohol shows how important this subject is to you and learning how it harms so many.

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