Navigating Mental Health and Substance Misuse

By Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr.
March 5, 2024

Each year the Choctaw Nation hosts the “Annual Navigating Mental Health and Substance Misuse Conference” at Choctaw Casino & Resort – Durant. This year’s event will be held on March 11-12, registration begins at 7:45 a.m. This conference, which began in 2020, aims to foster collaborations with law enforcement personnel, mental health providers, prevention experts, and judicial professionals through emphasizing strong educational values and innovative practices.

Some of the topics to be discussed in just the first day of the two-day event include:

  • “High in Plain Sight” addresses current alcohol, drug, and concealment trends and identifiers. In this training, participants will receive education pertaining to drug trends, legal drugs to avoid detection/drug tests, alcohol/drug clothing and alcoholic energy drinks.
  • The Texas Department of Public Safety (TXDPS) developed a training course, Interdiction for the Protection of Children (IPC), to help law enforcement officers identify and rescue endangered or exploited children and identify those who pose a high-risk threat to a child.
  • Attendees will be educated on the many facets of drug use and abuse through the many social media avenues.
  • Information about how to identify the need for psychological assessment among Native Americans and how to utilize a culturally informed assessment approach.
  • When it comes to your mental health, self-care can help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness, and increase your energy.
  • The audience will gain an awareness of the concept of Cultural Humility as a valuable approach to working effectively with clients and communities whose cultural practices, beliefs and experiences are different than one’s own.
  • The history, epidemiology, legal status, effects, intoxication, withdrawal and treatment of kratom, tianeptine, gabapentin, xylazine, nitazines and antihistamines.
  • Dr. Charla Hall (Cherokee) spent a semester at Cornell University as an Indigenous Visiting Scholar, during that time, she developed programs for students, faculty, and staff.
  • A traumatic story of domestic violence, forgiveness and resiliency. A discussion concerning the children left behind, responding to calls for service, advocacy and community partnerships.
  • Drew Robinson, a former Major League Baseball player, is passionate about advocating to prioritize our mental health, working towards accessible mental health care, and encouraging peer-to-peer support so people can share their stories and find the necessary support they need.
  • “Brain Chemistry: It’s What Drugs of Abuse Mess With”: When we are talking about drugs, we are talking about “external psychoactive substances”, i.e., something that we take into our bodies to change our perceptions, moods, consciousness, cognition and/or our behavior.
  • Domestic Violence 101 will explore what domestic is, the laws surrounding it, and the overall mental health effects on victims and their children.
  • “ContrADDICTION” looks at the physical, mental, and emotional impact of youth addiction. Years of examining peer-reviewed journals and research have been distilled into this webinar and presented in an interesting and engaging way.

There will be more discussions and opportunities for substance abuse counselors and law enforcement officials to interact and share notes to make sure those attending know the signs of someone in distress from substance abuse. We invite you to attend and learn more about navigating mental health and substance misuse.