Blending Aboriginal and Western healing methods to treat intergenerational trauma with substance use disorder in Aboriginal peoples who live in Northeastern Ontario, Canada

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Abstract

As with many Indigenous groups around the world, Aboriginal communities in Canada face significant challenges with trauma and substance use. The complexity of symptoms that accompany intergenerational trauma and substance use disorders represents major challenges in the treatment of both disorders. There appears to be an underutilization of substance use and mental health services, substantial client dropout rates, and an increase in HIV infections in Aboriginal communities in Canada. The aim of this paper is to explore and evaluate current literature on how traditional Aboriginal healing methods and the Western treatment model "Seeking Safety" could be blended to help Aboriginal peoples heal from intergenerational trauma and substance use disorders. A literature search was conducted using the keywords: intergenerational trauma, historical trauma, Seeking Safety, substance use, Two-Eyed Seeing, Aboriginal spirituality, and Aboriginal traditional healing. Through a literature review of Indigenous knowledge, most Indigenous scholars proposed that the wellness of an Aboriginal community can only be adequately measured from within an Indigenous knowledge framework that is holistic, inclusive, and respectful of the balance between the spiritual, emotional, physical, and social realms of life. Their findings indicate that treatment interventions must honour the historical context and history of Indigenous peoples. Furthermore, there appears to be strong evidence that strengthening cultural identity, community integration, and political empowerment can enhance and improve mental health and substance use disorders in Aboriginal populations. In addition, Seeking Safety was highlighted as a well-studied model with most populations, resulting in healing. The provided recommendations seek to improve the treatment and healing of Aboriginal peoples presenting with intergenerational trauma and addiction. Other recommendations include the input of qualitative and quantitative research as well as studies encouraging Aboriginal peoples to explore treatments that could specifically enhance health in their respective communities.

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Marsh, T. N., Coholic, D., Cote-Meek, S., & Najavits, L. M. (2015). Blending Aboriginal and Western healing methods to treat intergenerational trauma with substance use disorder in Aboriginal peoples who live in Northeastern Ontario, Canada. Harm Reduction Journal, 12(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12954-015-0046-1

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