By Stacy Thacker, University of Montana
With the holiday season usually comes cold weather and bad conditions but it could also mean life or death for many who are suffering from substance abuse.
On Wednesday November 30th Encompassing Health Services, a detox center in Page, Ariz., closed its doors. Funding for the program was cut and with no backup plan the community is worried about what will happen to those left out in the cold.
According to the linked article, 90 percent of the people that were staying at the detox center were Navajo. Many are being told to find substance abuse centers elsewhere. However, there are no centers currently on the reservation, this is likely because of the illogical belief that there is no need for such a center in a “dry” reservation, meaning it doesn't sell or allow alcohol to be brought in.
Areas like Holbrook and Winslow, both in Arizona, and Gallup, N.M., have detox centers available. However, considering the reservation is larger than a lot of states, its not guaranteed that an intoxicated person could make it there.
In Arizona its not illegal to be drunk in public so many of the intoxicated are taken to a hospital if a detox center is not present. Churches in Page are looking at stepping up and tackling the detox center closure and helping those in need.
According to the Navajo Times, the Navajo Nation Department of Behavioral Health Services and former Navajo Nation President Kelsey Begay are looking into the issue and trying to come up with an alternative.
Although the detox center has closed, Encompass Health Services is still offering help in Behavioral Health and Medicine. The detox center, apparently, will sit empty for now.
Stacy Thacker (Navajo) is from Navajo, N.M.