American Indian methamphetamine and other drug use in the Southwestern United States. Academic Article uri icon


  • To investigate the extent of methamphetamine and other drug use among American Indians (AIs) in the Four Corners region, we developed collaborations with Southwestern tribal entities and treatment programs in and around New Mexico. We held nine focus groups, mostly with Southwestern AI participants (N = 81) from three diverse New Mexico communities to understand community members, treatment providers, and clients/relatives views on methamphetamine. We conducted a telephone survey of staff (N = 100) from agencies across New Mexico to assess perceptions of methamphetamine use among people working with AI populations. We collected and analyzed self-reported drug use data from 300 AI clients/relatives who completed the Addiction Severity Index (ASI) in the context of treatment at three diverse addiction treatment programs. Each focus group offered a unique perspective about the effect of drugs and alcohol on each respective community. Though data from the phone surveys and ASIs suggested concerning rates of methamphetamine use, with women more adversely affected by substance use in general, alcohol was identified as the biggest substance use problem for AI populations in the Southwest. There appears to be agreement that methamphetamine use is a significant problem in these communities, but that alcohol is much more prevalent and problematic. There was less agreement about what should be done to prevent and treat methamphetamine use. Future research should attend to regional and tribal differences due to variability in drug use patterns, and should focus on identifying and improving dissemination of effective substance use interventions.

publication date

  • October 2011