According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 660,000 Americans died from overdoses from both prescription opioids and heroin between 2000 and 2017 in what has been described as the biggest public health crisis in U.S. history. American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) have experienced the highest rate of opioid-related overdoses and fatalities (including prescription and illegal drugs) of all racial/ethnic groups. Heroin overdoses among tribal communities, for example, increased 236 percent from 2010-2014. The opioid and substance abuse crisis has had a staggering effect not only on tribal members, their children, families and communities, but has also emerged as the single greatest strain on limited tribal resources, which have been overwhelmed in responding to addiction, treatment, incarcerations, additional law enforcement, social services, tribal court dockets and related Indian Child Welfare issues. The Great Lakes Area (the former Bemidji Area of Indian Health Service) reported a 70 percent increase in opioid overdoses in 2017.
The goal and purpose of The Saving Lives Project is to provide critical resources and support through culturally informed public health efforts to address this scourge among two populations: Those who are currently addicted and Native children, so that they never become addicted.
The applicant, Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council, Inc. (GLITC) is a regional AI/AN tribally- designated organization comprised of 11 Tribes of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan in existence since 1965. The Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Epidemiology Center (GLITEC), a program of Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council, Inc., serves the 34 Tribes, four urban Indian areas, and three Indian Health Service (IHS) Units in the Great Lakes IHS Area (Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Chicago), within Category B: HHS Region V. The specific target populations for the Saving Lives Project are those who are addicted and children; the project will work in cooperation with tribal public health departments, workforce segments across tribal public health departments, non-governmental tribal public health components and school districts. The project has a two-pronged approach to its goal in treating and preventing substance abuse (opioids, methamphetamines, alcohol, etc.) through culturally informed interventions in Tribal and urban Indian communities across the Great Lakes Area.
The Saving Lives Project will partner with Tribes and urban Indian communities to achieve the following outcomes: 1) Increased implementation of tools and processes that build operational capacity and effectiveness with culturally appropriate interventions; 2) Improved data collection between the tribes, states and federal government, including maintenance, interpretation, and dissemination of tribal health data; 3) Translation of evidence-based and evidence-informed practices into culturally appropriate public health programs, policies, and services; 4) Development of culturally relevant public health resources and communication tools; 5) Increased use of nationally established standards, such as those for public health department accreditation; 6) Increased number of qualified public health workers; and 7) Implementation of culturally-centered, practice-based evidence programs and services.