Free Nationwide Program for Native American Families Affected by Addiction

Hazelden Betty Ford expands reach of its virtual family programs
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Center City, Minn. (Oct. 7, 2022) – With the ongoing substance use and mental health crisis continuing to disparately impact Native Americans, the nonprofit Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation has launched a culturally specific educational and support program for Native American families—accessible at no cost right in the home, regardless if their loved one is in treatment.

The new Family Program for Native American Families ensures families have the tools necessary for the journey to their own recovery. To develop the new service, indigenous clinician leaders within Hazelden Betty Ford's national system of care applied Native American cultural and spiritual principles to the nonprofit addiction treatment leader's existing, highly regarded family program, making modifications in language and content to account for generational trauma and affirm the resilience remembered in the DNA of North America's First Peoples.

Facilitators—all of whom are Native American and credentialed family professionals—apply culturally relevant tools and resources for American Indian and Alaska Native participants.

Referring to the Medicine Wheel, used for generations by many Native American tribes for health and healing, Sarita McGowan, EdD, co-lead of the new program and substance use disorder counselor at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage (Calif.), explained how its four colors and directions represent diversity of people and coming together for wellness.

"Hurting or healing, we have to come together," explained McGowan, who is also featured alongside Hazelden Betty Ford in Center City (Minn.) Clinical Director Cecelia Jayme in the first of 12 planned new episodes in Hazelden Betty Ford's Let's Talk Recovery Equity podcast series—each lifting up Native and Indigenous culture and communities. Kateri Coyhis, executive director of White Bison and board member at Faces & Voices of Recovery, is featured in the second episode.

One of Hazelden Betty Ford's RecoveryGo® online solutions, the virtual family program recognizes that when someone has a substance use disorder, everyone in the family unit is affected. Creating a sense of community within the family program so that participants can trust the process and those involved, is key. The family program strives to create an interactive, supportive learning and processing environment, where families are able to gain insight and skills regarding:

  • Substance use disorder and its impacts on the family;
  • Family reactions to substance use and behaviors in the past;
  • Helpful boundary and communication skills; and
  • Sources of support for family recovery.

"We want to reach every parent, spouse, sibling and other loved one who is caught up in the complicated pain and confusion that addiction so often brings to families," said Joseph Lee, MD, president and CEO of Hazelden Betty Ford. "Our free virtual family program cultivates a sense of healing and hope for everyone, regardless of socio-economic status, and provides skills that empower families to be part of the solution. Offering the program in a culturally specific way, as we also did recently with our Spanish-language family program, is an important part of our vision to empower recovery and well-being for all."

All sessions are presented live virtually and held one Wednesday per month, from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST. Anyone interested in participating in the Native American Virtual Family Program can register at hazeldenbettyford.org/family.

About the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation

The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is a force of healing and hope for individuals, families and communities affected by addiction to alcohol and other drugs. As the nation's leading nonprofit provider of comprehensive inpatient and outpatient addiction and mental health care for adults and youth, the Foundation has treatment centers and telehealth services nationwide as well as a network of collaborators throughout health care. Through charitable support and a commitment to innovation, the Foundation is able to continually enhance care, research, programs and services, and help more people. With a legacy that began in 1949 and includes the 1982 founding of the Betty Ford Center, the Foundation today is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in its services and throughout the organization, which also encompasses a graduate school of addiction studies, a publishing division, an addiction research center, recovery advocacy and thought leadership, professional and medical education programs, school-based prevention resources and a specialized program for children who grow up in families with addiction. Learn more at HazeldenBettyFord.org and on Twitter.