Colville Business Council member Andy Joseph Jr. speaks at an opioid training in Nespelem, Monday.

NESPELEM - The Colville Tribes hosted a free opioid response training at the Lucy F. Covington Government Center, May 28 and May 29, bringing together local tribal and federal employees from health care, behavioral health and corrections, as well as guests from across the region.

“Alcohol and drug addiction is something that has hit the tribe,” said Colville Business Council’s Andy Joseph Jr. “I remember when I was a young boy, in 1968, that was the first time I’d ever seen what alcohol does to our people. I witnessed some sad occassions as a young boy with some of my own family at my grandfather’s home. Later on, even in my own home. I think we need to break the

cycle.”

Joseph chairs the CBC Health and Human Services committee, and though the training included a Medication for Addiction Treatment certificate training, the tribal leader called on those providers gathered at the training to continue consideration of traditional values in response to substance use disorders.

“I really believe that in the teachings that each and every one of us was given a gift. The Creator put that on each of us,” said Joseph. “I figure 300 to 400 years ago, maybe 1 thousand years ago, the world was the closest thing to Heaven. We didn’t have the drugs and alcohol. We gathered from the land, and it provided for us. We had people who specialized in every different thing that was there. We had doctors that would heal our people.”

According to a release for the event, current federal and Indian Health Service policies support MAT as one method of medical intervention for patients with substance use disorders.

“A lot of people don’t understand when a person gets addicted to a pharmacuetical, they’re also going to need a pharmaceutical to help them with their recovery,” said Colville Tribal Behavioral Health’s Lisa Orr. “The success rates that we have are going to be dependent on how well an aftercare program helps them after they come home. Are we giving them the structure to be successful ... If people are coming back from a facility that prescribed them Suboxone to be in recovery, we have to have a medical provider continuing to prescribe that medication.”

Substance Use Disorders, including opioid use disorder, is understood to have a disproportionate impact on Indian Country.

Along with the MAT training, the agenda of the training touched on the epidimiology of SUD in Indian Country, the connection of trauma and addition, the importance of trauma informed care and effective treatment approaches to SUD in tribal court systems, such as in the Colville Tribes’ Healing to Wellness Court.

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