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Alcohol and Drug Prevention Among American Indian Families: The Family Circles Program

American Indian people have been exposed to years of acculturation that have resulted in a damaged cultural self-esteem and feelings ofapathy and helplessness. The unhealthy ways in which Indian families interact is directly related to self-perceptions, values, and self-esteem. Changing these feelings and behaviors begins with changing a basic sense of selfawareness. Traditional American Indian culture offers healthy alternatives to unhealthy acculturated behaviors, ideals, and values. The lives ofAmerican Indian families can be enhanced by providing them with the opportunity to learn how to replace dysfunctional ways of interacting with the nurturing ways of their traditional culture. Changing the unhealthy behaviors and self-concepts of American Indian families requires a holistic approach of nurturing the spiritual, emotional, physical, and intellectual selves. In spite ofall the challenges Indian families have faced throughout history, there is still a strong family allegiance. This is a fundamental and enduring aspect of the American Indian family that can bc built upon to foster and sustain healthy family lifestyles.