Intertribal Talking Circle

A culturally competent substance use prevention intervention targeting Native American youth in three different tribal communities 

Substance use and substance-related consequences have disproportionately impacted Native Americans, including the opioid crisis. The Intertribal Talking Circle is an after-school substance use prevention intervention, developed by John Lowe PhD, that aims to address attitudes towards substance use early on in Native American youth.

The method and information presented is similar to standard alcohol and drug education programs typically provided in schools; however, it is culturally based, delivered in the format of a “talking circle". In Native American tradition, a talking circle is an opportunity to capitalize on the belief that healing and transformation should take place in the presence of the group.

Using a community-based participatory research approach, this culturally competent intervention has been implemented across three tribal communities in Minnesota, North Carolina, and Oklahoma, targeting 6th graders. The intervention is being funded as a five-year clinical trial with the goal of evaluating the use of the Talking Circle to increase Native American youth cultural identity while decreasing their substance use. 

A review of other substance use prevention programs can be found here

For youth who completed the program, interest in substance use decreased. 

Continuum of Care
Type of Evidence
Response Approach
Early Intervention
Peer-reviewed Article

Evidence of Program Effectiveness

"Each site formed a community partnership committee (CPC) that culturally tailored the intervention for their tribal community...CPCs identified alcohol, marijuana, and prescription medications as high priority substances. CPC concerns focused on the increasing substance use in their communities and the corresponding negative impacts on families, stating a lack of coping skills, positive role models, and hope for the future as concerns for youth...these results may be helpful to other tribal communities developing/implementing substance use prevention interventions for AI youth. It is critical that Indigenous cultures and local context be factored into such programs." (Baldwin et al., 2020)

Also, there is self-report that interest in substance use decreases after completing the Intertribal Talking Circle. Definitive results are pending as this intervention is part of a clinical trial