Native American populations see spike in overdose deaths

By Scott Daniels
Published: Monday, July 18, 2022 - 5:05am

Over the past decade, the opioid crisis has led to a sharp increase in fentanyl overdose deaths throughout the U.S. Native American populations are now seeing a similar surge.

Between 2019 and 2020, overdose death rates for American Indians increased 39%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lee Yaiva is a Native American and is CEO of the Scottsdale Recovery Center. He said tribes are still in the introductory phase of the fentanyl spike and don’t know how to properly deal with it yet.

“The tribal community, they’re more focused on alcohol and substance abuse in relation to methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana and alcohol, but they haven’t really addressed fentanyl yet," Yaiva said. "Local law enforcement doesn’t really know how to respond to it. I don’t even know if they’ve been trained on it.”

Yaiva said that although all age groups are affected, younger people are more drawn to substance abuse trends. 

Health + Medicine Native American Affairs