Copper River Native Association Cultural Treatment Camp (2004)

Brian Saylor, PhD, MPH
Melodie Fair, M.Ed.


The Copper River Native Association Cultural Treatment Camp was designed to address a gap in existing treatment services for alcohol and drug abuse by creating a new program to supplement the outpatient programs in the Copper River Basin area of Alaska. This project was submitted by the Copper River Native Association (CRNA), a federally recognized tribal entity that represents a consortium of five independent local village governments. It was funded in October 1999 by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), a division of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).


The purpose of this project was to create a residential substance abuse "recovery camp" in a culturally familiar and appropriate setting to serve up to 15 men and women each treatment cycle who were addicted to alcohol and/or other drugs. Based on a treatment camp model used by other interior Alaskan communities, CRNA promoted healthy lifestyles by re-establishing traditional values and practices. Consultants from other substance abuse treatment and rural health care programs, serving predominantly Alaska Native populations, worked with local elders, leaders, and community members to design, implement, and monitor the progress of the treatment project. Those consumers and their families who were most impacted by the problems of alcohol and drug abuse and related violence served an integral role in every phase of the program.


The evaluation is being conducted by the Institute for Health Studies. This helps to ensure that scientifically valid and culturally relevant process and outcome measures are employed. Partial funding for Hudson Lake Recovery Camp has been extended for fiscal year 2004 from SAMHSA.


A videotape of the Cultural Treatment Camp was produced by the program "Heartbeat of Alaska." Copies may be requested through the Copper River Native Association.