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Awakening: 'Spontaneous recovery’ from substance abuse among Aboriginal peoples in Canada

Author(s): Adrien Tempier | Colleen A. Dell | Elder Campbell Papequash | Randy Duncan | Raymond Tempier

Journal: International Indigenous Policy Journal
ISSN 1916-5781

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: spontaneous recovery | awakening | substance abuse | Aboriginal | culture | well-being

There is a paucity of research on spontaneous recovery (SR) from substance abuse in general, and specific to Aboriginal peoples. There is also limited understanding of the healing process associated with SR. In this study, SR was examined among a group of Aboriginal peoples in Canada. Employing a decolonizing methodology, thematic analysis of traditional talking circle narratives identified an association between a traumatic life event and an ‘awakening.’ This ‘awakening’ was embedded in primary (i.e., consider impact on personal well-being) and secondary (i.e., implement alternative coping mechanism) cognitive appraisal processes and intrinsic and extrinsic motivation rooted in increased traditional Aboriginal cultural awareness and understanding. This contributed to both abstinence (i.e., recovery) and sustained well-being (i.e.,continued abstinence). Three key interrelated ‘themes’ specific to the role of culture in SR and recovery maintenance were identified: Aboriginal identity, cultural practices, and traditional values. These findings,combined with the limited literature, were developed into a prospective model of SR from substance abuse inAboriginal peoples. This model highlights the potential need for substance abuse treatment and intervention policy to consider culture as a determinant of health and well-being.
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