2010 NCRG Conference Presenter Brings “Wellbriety” To Native Americans With Addictions

The use of Native American traditions to heal addiction is one of the featured topics at the 11thAnnual NCRG Conference on Gambling and Addiction on Nov. 14-16, 2010, at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino and the Las Vegas Convention Center in Nev. Don Coyhis, a member of the Mohican Nation, will hold a session titled “The Wellbriety Movement: Drawing on Native American Tools to Heal from Addiction.”

Wellbriety, a combination of the words “well” and “sobriety,” is a concept of recovery that focuses on a “quality sobriety.” This concept is rooted in Native American cultural values such as respect for all living things and responsibility to self and the community. Coyhis has been teaching the concepts of Wellbriety for 20 years and has held trainings in more than 100 Native American communities, personally training more than 2,000 leaders.

Coyhis based the concept of Wellbriety on his own experience as a recovering alcoholic in traditional 12-step programs. He found that the sobriety he achieved in the program was unfulfilling, a feeling he heard echoed by other recovering Native Americans. In response, he developed Wellbriety by combining aspects of traditional 12-step programs with Native American cultural values, community engagement, and health promotion and prevention.

One example of this integration is the “Medicine Wheel and 12 Steps to Recovery,” a modification of Alcoholics Anonymous that organizes the steps into four categories to correspond with the stages of life represented by the Medicine Wheel. The categories include steps 1-3: Finding the Creator; steps 4-6: Finding Yourself; steps7-9: Finding Your Relationship with Others; and steps 10-12: Finding the Wisdom of the Elders. This approach combines methods of sobriety and wellness with Native ways of communicating cultural knowledge in a single cohesive program.

Wellbriety training is available for families, adults, youth, people in prison, and even whole communities. The training can be done in person at the Wellbriety Training Institute in Colorado Springs, or through books and videos available fromthe Wellbriety Institute’s website.

For more information on Coyhis’s session at the 2010 NCRG conference, as well as other speakers and presentations, please download theNCRG Conference 2010 Brochure. To register for the conference, visit theConference linkon the NCRG website.

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