Strong Lakota Families | Thiwáhe Gluwáš’akapi 2


Logo for the Strong Lakota Families Study

Evaluation of an optimized intervention to prevent early substance use among American Indian youth: Examination of expanded impacts on youth and parents

The Strong Lakota Families Study is a randomized controlled trial of the Thiwáhe Gluwáš'akapi (TG; sacred home in which family is made strong) program, a family-based substance use prevention program for young adolescents developed as part of a previous grant (R01 DA035111; Whitesell, PI). TG is delivered as a seven-week series of sessions to groups of 8-10 families. Young adolescents (10-13 years old) are enrolled with at least one parent or guardian to participate in program sessions and three years of follow-up data collection. After baseline data collection, families are randomly assigned to either the TG program or a comparison group receiving a brief healthy eating and exercise intervention adapted for this community (Woyute Waśte; good food). In addition to testing program effects on adolescent substance use, the study will also examine effects on youth suicide risk and adult substance use outcomes. 

Aims and outcomes

Specific aims

  1. delay onset of substance use and reduce levels of use among youth; 
  2. reduce suicidal ideation among youth; and
  3. reduce substance use among adults participating in TG with their children.



This study is currently underway. The first Cohort (Spring 2020) was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Program implementation is currently on pause and will resume when it is again safe to bring families together.

The study is using a randomized controlled design to address three Specific Aims, testing the effectiveness of the TG program to:

Centers for American Indian & Alaska Native Health

Colorado School of Public Health

CU Anschutz

Nighthorse Campbell Native Health Building

13055 East 17th Avenue

Mail Stop F800

Aurora, CO 80045

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