Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2014 June ; 49(6): 961–973.


© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014


Objective—Our objective was to investigate change in prevalence rates for mental and substance abuse disorders between early adolescence and young adulthood in a cohort of indigenous adolescents who participated in an 8-year panel study.

Method—The data are from a lagged, sequential study of 671 indigenous adolescents (Wave 1) from a single culture in the Northern Midwest USA and Canada. At Wave 1 (mean age 11.3 years, Wave 4 (mean age 14.3 years), Wave 6 (mean age 16.2 years), and at Wave 8 (mean age 18.3 years) the tribally enrolled adolescents completed a computer-assisted personal interview that included DISC-R assessment for 11 diagnoses. Our yearly retention rates by diagnostic wave were: Wave 2, 94.7 %; Wave 4, 87.7 %; Wave 6, 88.0 %; Wave 8, 78.5 %.

Results—The findings show a dramatic increase in lifetime prevalence rates for substance use disorders. By young adulthood, over half had met criteria of substance abuse or dependence disorder. Also at young adulthood, 58.2 % had met lifetime criteria of a single substance use or mental disorder and 37.2 % for two or more substance use or mental disorders. The results are compared to other indigenous diagnostic studies and to the general population.

Conclusions—A mental health crisis exists within the indigenous populations that participated in this study. Innovations within current mental health service systems are needed to address the unmet demand of adolescents and families.