Relationship Building for a Healthy Future: Indigenous Youth Pathways for Resiliency and Recovery

  • Rodney C Haring
  • Bonnie Freeman
  • Alfred L Guiffrida
  • Michael L Dennis
Keywords: Native Hawaiian, Native American, American Indian, substance abuse, reasons for quitting, recovery, adolescents, young adults, mixed methods, resiliency


This study investigated why Indigenous youth (Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, American Indians, First Nations, and Alaska Natives) decided to abstain from substance abuse behaviors. The authors used both qualitative methods (grounded theory) and quantitative methods (exploratory factor analysis) to develop a story line of the rationale participants used to abstain from substance abuse behaviors and to provide a voice from participants to enhance future Indigenous-relevant curriculum and social work related intervention development. This project was based on the guiding principles set forth by a tribally relevant research code. Aggregate data from Global Appraisal of Individual Needs (GAIN) intakes were used. Results included the importance of maintaining relationships as a driving factor in the quit process. Youths also stated that maintaining a healthy lifestyle and having strong self-will not being an addict were resiliency factors in the path to recovery. Finally, Indigenous youth used their perceptions of future planning (school and career) and past experiences with the legal system as a means of support. The developing theory, grounded in the perceptions and experiences of the Indigenous youth involved, was given the name relationship building for a healthy future and better life control.


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