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Project duration: 09/1999-08/2003
Sponsor: National Institute if Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Award: $1,385,140

The aims of the Journeys of the Circle project are 1) to
reduce the risk of harm and the potential for addiction once
experimental and initial substance use has occurred, 2) to
prevent other Native youth from experimenting with substances
while aiding them in maintaining abstinence, and 3) to help Native youth identify other behavioral choices for social interactions that offer alternatives to drinking and violence.

The Journeys of the Circle project is a partnership between the Addictive Behaviors Research Center and the Seattle Indian Health Board (SIHB), a nonprofit organization serving the health needs of the Native community in King County, Washington, for more than 30 years. Originally, the project aimed to develop a pilot test of two promising treatment programs for Native adolescents: A Life Skills program and a Native 12-Step approach. However, implementation of the project proved challenging. Subsequently, the goal became to pilot test a Native adaption of a Life Skills intervention that could be incorporated into existing services for urban Native adolescents.

The project developed a culturally congruent life skills course entitled Canoe Journey, Life’s Journey. Drawing on the Northwest Native tradition of the canoe journey, a metaphor was constructed in which the canoe journey served as a metaphor for life skills essential to bicultural competence. Participants received an eight-session life skills course, which used aspects of the canoe journey as well as other Native symbols (e.g., the Medicine Wheel) to teach skills such as communication, decision-making, and goal setting as well as providing information about alcohol and drug use and its consequences.

A sample population was recruited from Seattle Public School enrollments and outpatient service contacts at SIHB. The majority of participants were Native adolescents living in an urban setting. Data analysis is currently underway, however preliminary results show a positive trend with regard to the Situational Confidence Questionnaire, a measure of self-efficacy that assesses confidence in one’s ability to resist alcohol and drug use in certain settings.

For a list of related publications, click here.