National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program

The National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program (NNADAP) is an example of a Health Canada program now largely controlled by First Nations communities and organizations. Since its origins in the 1970s, the program's goal has been to help First Nations and Inuit communities set up and operate programs aimed at reducing high levels of alcohol, drug, and solvent abuse among on-reserve populations.

NNADAP supports a national network of 52 residential treatment centres, with some 700 treatment beds. You can get basic information on these treatment centres, as well as those funded by the National Youth Solvent Abuse Program (NYSAP), through the directory of treatment centres, compiled and updated as part of these programs.

Background and activities

NNADAP originated in the mid-1970s as part of a national pilot project to address alcohol and drug abuse. The program was made permanent in 1982 because of the "urgent and visible nature of alcohol and drug abuse among First Nations people and Inuit". This stability enabled NNADAP to better coordinate with other programs in the promotion of community health and sober lifestyles.

Today, NNADAP provides over 550 prevention programs with over 700 workers - almost all employed by First Nations and Inuit communities. Program activities vary, based on the size and needs of each community and the availability of skilled workers, but they generally fall into three key areas:

Prevention activities, aimed at preventing serious alcohol and other drug abuse problems, include:

  • Public awareness campaigns;
  • Public meetings;
  • Public speaking;
  • Developing content for schools on alcohol and drug abuse;
  • School programs;
  • News media work; and
  • Cultural and spiritual events.

Intervention activities, aimed at dealing with existing abuse problems at the earliest possible stage, include:

  • Recreation activities for youths;
  • Discussion groups and social programs; and
  • Native spiritual and cultural programs.

Aftercare activities, aimed at preventing alcohol and drug abuse problems from reoccurring, include:

  • Counselling;
  • Sharing circles;
  • Support groups;
  • Crisis intervention;
  • Support visits;
  • Outreach visits;
  • Treatment referrals;
  • Detox referrals;
  • Social service referrals;
  • Medical referrals; and
  • Band services referrals.

Program review

In 1989, NNADAP underwent its first program review, but this was of limited scope. In 1996, terms of reference were created to undertake a more extensive general review. The goals of this review were to determine the program's overall effectiveness, and to guide both Health Canada and Aboriginal communities in further developing alcohol and drug abuse programming.

The general review took place in several phases, including:

  • An in-depth literature review in the field of addictions, looking at evaluation methods, relevant research and studies in addictions among First Nations people and Inuit;
  • Interviews within both First Nations and Health Canada, aimed at determining the major issues of concern to those involved with NNADAP; and
  • The gathering of statistics on basic frequencies of alcohol and substance abuse in Aboriginal communities, based on a questionnaire distributed to health service workers and First Nations and Inuit leaders.

The complete results are available in the National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program General Review 1998 - Final Report. You can also read an abbreviated executive summary in the National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program Review.

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