EAST examined emergent substance use among young adolescent American Indians (AIs) and identified risk and protective factors, with the goal of informing opportunities for prevention. Using theories from research with youth in other populations and with older AIs, we developed an integrative framework for early substance use development for AI youth that recognized the impact of stressful life events and early puberty, and included potential mediating effects of peers and moderating effects of both parents and culture. The study utilized data from a longitudinal study (Wiconi Teca Waste) in a reservation community with high rates of substance disorder.
Findings from the EAST study, documenting significant risk for initiation of tobacco, marijuana, and alcohol use before age 13, were shared with the Community Advisory Board. These advisors urged us to help them find ways to protect their youth. This led directly to grant funding (R01DA035111, Whitesell, PI) which supported the development of the Thiwáhe Gluwáš’akapi program.