Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Fri, Feb. 28

Letter: Therapeutic communities needed in tribal jails

To the editor,

"Once a street alcoholic, die a street alcoholic" is the hurtful truth that is placed upon local Native Americans who come from nearby reservations to experience Flagstaff's enabling history with its homelessness, or to flee from their own tribal oppression.

Being a "street alcoholic" myself and reading in the local newspaper about my fellow street alcoholics killing themselves has me wanting to express my opinion.

After reading the following topics regarding the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Tuba City Judicial Building, the "Meth Does Not Discriminate" conference and with the upcoming tribal election, I have to say that I'm impressed, yet still feel concerned for the community solution on addictions.

I was a client with the Department of Behavioral Health Services in Tuba City. The department sent me to a "therapeutic community" in Tucson to get help for my addictions. I discovered myself as a person I was and thrived to become the person I am today with help from people just like me. These humans are my friends because they aren't out to get something from me for nothing. Our friendship is based on the truth and sobriety through the process of recovery and the 12-step program.

The department may or may not want to hear this because it's too White-mannish and community involved, but I have to voice my experience whether I'm right or wrong.

The Navajo Nation Department of Justice and the Navajo Nation Department of Behavioral Health Services should consider creating its own non-profit therapeutic community as a campus and within the new tribal jail facility.

My experience with a therapeutic community has been very challenging and life-saving. All it took was a simple way of friendship building and a willingness to learn how to do things differently.

Give us street alcoholics a safe place to express ourselves and teach us how to live like the rest of you. You might just figure something out and learn something new from us on our own homeland. Help us live and die as humans rather than street alcoholics.

I would also like to say "Thank you" to the Amity Foundation, Western Navajo Department of Behavioral Health Services, the Exodus Treatment program and other organizations fighting for recovery.

Kevin Edgewater

Flagstaff, Ariz.

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