Native News Network Staff in Native Health. Discussion »
WASHINGTON - A new federal framework to assist American Indian and Alaska Native communities in achieving their goals in the prevention, intervention, and treatment of alcohol and substance abuse was announced today by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Department of Interior (DOI) Secretary Ken Salazar, and Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder.
The framework, captured in a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed by Secretary Sebelius, Secretary Salazar, and Attorney General Holder was published in the Federal Register on Friday. It was called for in the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010, which President Obama signed into law in July 2010.
The Memorandum of Agreement describes how the Office of Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse established in HHSâ€™ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will coordinate tribal substance abuse programs across the federal government with a special emphasis on promoting programs geared toward reaching youth and offering alternatives to incarceration.
"Alcoholism and addiction are among the most severe public health and safety problems facing American Indian and Alaska Native people," said HHS Secretary Sebelius. "It doesnâ€™t have to be this way. With help that is based in the rich Indian culture these conditions just like other heath conditions can be successfully prevented and treated."
"There is a clear need to align, leverage, and coordinate federal resources so that we can best support tribal efforts to build healthy and safe communities," said Secretary Salazar. "This new office will serve as the federal focal point for this critically important work."
"A truly holistic approach is necessary when addressing substance abuse in Indian Country because we know that where alcohol and substance abuse are prevalent, public safety concerns are similarly prevalent," said Attorney General Holder. "This new office will help further the commitment of the Justice Department and our partner agencies to build and sustain safe, secure, and healthy tribal communities."
posted August 6, 2011 6:30 am edt
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