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Observations placeholder

Healing substance abuse in the Inuit using drumming



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2012 Sep;38(5):505-10. doi: 10.3109/00952990.2012.699565.

Utilizing drumming for American Indians/Alaska Natives with substance use disorders: a focus group study.

Dickerson D1, Robichaud F, Teruya C, Nagaran K, Hser YI.

BACKGROUND:  Drumming has been utilized among American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) tribes for centuries to promote healing and self-expression. Drum-Assisted Recovery Therapy for Native Americans (DARTNA), currently under development, is a substance abuse treatment utilizing drumming as a core component.

OBJECTIVES:  Focus groups were conducted to assist in the development of the DARTNA protocol. Feedback obtained from these focus groups will inform a subsequent pretest of DARTNA and an empirical study analyzing its effectiveness.

METHODS:  Three focus groups were conducted among AIs/ANs with substance use disorders (n = 6), substance abuse treatment providers (n = 8), and a community advisory board (n = 4) to solicit feedback prior to a pretest of the DARTNA protocol.

RESULTS:  Overall, participants indicated that DARTNA could be beneficial for AIs/ANs with substance use disorders. Four overarching conceptual themes emerged across the focus groups:

(1) benefits of drumming,
(2) importance of a culture-based focus,
(3) addressing gender roles in drumming activities, and
(4) providing a foundation of common AI/AN traditions.

CONCLUSIONS:  The DARTNA protocol is a potentially beneficial and culturally appropriate substance abuse treatment strategy for AIs/ANs. In order to optimize the potential benefits of a substance abuse treatment protocol utilizing drumming for AIs/ANs, adequate attention to tribal diversity and gender roles is needed.

SCIENTIFIC SIGNIFICANCE:  Due to the shortage of substance abuse treatments utilizing traditional healing activities for AIs/ANs, including drumming, results from this study provide an opportunity to develop an intervention that may meet the unique treatment needs of AIs/ANs.

PMID:  22931086

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps





Listening to beating sounds


Music therapy