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Substance abuse: The Root Cause

Palm SpringsNational Indian Conference

This week, Thursday and Friday, I am in Palm Springs California for the National Indian Conference supported and hosted by the Offices of Victims Crimes. Yesterday there were some powerful speakers e.g. Director of the FBI and a video by Vice President Biden as well as workshops on practice-based programs.

I woke up tossing and turning this morning, time change and the bed thinking about what today will bring and what I learned Thursday. The conference focus is mainly on Victim Crimes in Indian Country.  Crime doesn’t happen in a vacuum, drugs and guns do not cause crimes, people cause crimes, and that led me to thinking about the name of my first workshop yesterday: Circle of Healing for Drug and Alcohol Endangered Children. First, I want to clarify that everything that I saw, heard, and participated in yesterday I think was awesome and has so much potential to help our communities, but the title of this workshop got me to thinking who really endangers children? It isn’t the drugs and alcohol, it is us: everyday workers, parents, and even the media (run by people)… Maybe the title could be changed to Exposed to Drugs and Alcohol, maybe I am just too critical, but in order to change we have to be honest with ourselves.

Drugs, Alcohol, violence, and Victims Crimes are caused by us, the people. I believe that sometimes the root cause gets confused with the symptoms. We do what we do, firstly because something has triggered us. Some of  us have issues going back to childhood, some to school, others to chemical imbalances etc…, and we all deal with our issues in different ways. Some coping skills are healthier than others, and some that are unhealthy e.g. overeating, are not as obvious health risks as substance abuse.

The programs/workshops that I saw yesterday were great and what makes them so effective is that they were/are focusing on the root cause, we as a people, they built relationships with those individuals whom were exposed and affected by the destructive effects of alcohol and drugs.

I am sure that today will be just as productive as yesterday, and I am looking forward to learning more to bring back and share with our community. Remember that we all work in the field of prevention in everything that we do, but our greatest influence will be in our relationship building skills. People need people, and we all need to remember that in order to truly effect positive, lasting change that we need to get to the root cause of the problem.

In Sunny CA,

Anita Wisecup

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