Assessment of Navajo men who have naturally recovered from their drinking problems without treatment

Marlene Long Jasperse
College of Education, University of New Mexico
July, 2006


This exploratory study examined the natural recovery of Navajo males who stopped drinking on their own without any formal western-based alcohol treatment. The study sought to determine what factors enabled some Navajo males to naturally recover without treatment. Four research questions were posed: (1) What factors enabled natural recovery without any formal western-based alcohol treatment? (2) What factors could improve current treatment modalities of alcohol treatment programs? (3) What life events were antecedent to and associated with the natural recovery? and (4) What differences existed between study and comparison participants for assessing the adverse consequences of alcohol abuse, using the DrInC Survey. The total sample of sixty participants consisted of twenty study participants, twenty collateral participants, and twenty comparison participants. The study participants were the participants who stopped drinking on their own. The collateral participants were the participants who verified that the study participants had a drinking problem and had stopped drinking since January 2001. The comparison participants were the participants who were still drinking. Three instruments were used to collect information. The Demographic Questionnaire collected personal, traditional, and drinking history information. The DrInC Survey confirmed the extent of the participants' drinking problems. The Reasons for Resolution probed for factors that enabled the study participants to resolve their drinking and to remain sober. Basic descriptive statistics and tests of differences between percentages and paired alternatives were used to analyze the data. These analyses were produced in simple tables and figures to depict the study findings. The study found unique aspects of natural recovery as it occurred in the lives of the study participants. Spirituality was an essential part of natural recovery. Spirituality gave study participants the competence to take their first steps to natural recovery. Natural recovery was a powerful and positive life changing experience. Study participants were fully committed to it when they decided to stop drinking. The occurrence of natural recovery among them differed. For some, natural recovery just happened. For others, it was a process of saying 'good bye' to alcohol. For most, natural recovery, occurred in the middle years of life, but for some in their early adulthood. However, the most important aspect of natural recovery for these Navajo males was that they naturally recovered their own inner strength in order to regain control over their lives. Through Táá hwó ajŀ t'e'ego, they naturally recovered from their drinking.