New Program Targets Substance Abuse Among Native Americans In Massachusetts

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A new state program seeks to lower rates of substance abuse among young Native Americans in Massachusetts.

The state Department of Public Health says the $1.2 million, federally-funded initiative was launched as a result of recommendations from an opioid working group formed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that Native Americans have among the highest opioid overdose deaths rates in the country.

The new program will be directed toward Native middle-school students. The goal is teaching life skills that build self-esteem and help them cope with stress and anxiety, in the hope they will not turn to alcohol, drugs or tobacco as they get older.

Massachusetts tribes will also be offered help in applying for other grants to address these issues.