The Northern Forum


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Substance Abuse Treatment and Prevention Training in the North

Khanty-Mansiysk, Khanty-Mansiysk AO-Yugra,

and Yakutsk, Sakha Republic, Russia

September 24-28, 2007











Based on the success of the previous training sessions and proposals of the Substance Abuse Treatment Working Group, the Northern Forum held two training sessions, one in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, and one in Yakutsk, Sakha Republic, Russia focusing on cognitive behavior therapy, led by Dr. Bernard Segal from Alaska and Russian NF member regions.  



Youth Substance Abuse Treatment Training

Alaska and Idaho 

May 1-12, 2006



Based on specific programs which were discussed at the 2005 Youth Substance Abuse Conference, (co-sponsored by the U.S. Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs) a proposal to conduct substance abuse treatment training for Russian professionals was brought forward. The training involved visiting treatment facilities in Alaska as well as in Idaho where they learned firsthand about the alcohol and drug abuse treatment programs.


The training introduced eight healthcare professionals to substance abuse treatment approaches. The program included visiting programs located in Alaska (Anchorage and Fairbanks) and Idaho (Coeur d'Alene). Over the course of the 12 days, participants learned about specifics of the programs including information about how they were formed, funding, clinical operations and associated education elements.  Participants met with facility operators, therapists and others associated with the programs. The intent of this training was to provide the necessary tools to develop and improve existing substance abuse treatment programs in the regions of Russia, recognizing that the models shown are applicable to their locations and specific client needs.




Youth Substance Abuse Seminar

Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada)

May 2005


An International Seminar on Youth Substance Abuse was held in Whitehorse, Yukon, May 9-11, 2005. Numerous regions delegated youth specialists, psychologists, substance abuse counsellors, health practioners and other specialists.



 Link to Seminar Proceedings






The Russian North, while rich in subsoil resources like oil, gas, gold, etc. is a tough place to live in, and yet over the centuries, dozens of small Native groups have developed a subsistence economy based on hunting, trapping, fishing and reindeer herding.

However, the impact of other cultures on these groups and their environment has been severe, particularly with the introduction of alcohol even in the remotest villages. Traditional family structures have been destroyed, women, elders and children are abused, unemployment is very high and mortality as a result of alcohol and accidents has reached unprecedented proportions. Suicides are frequent, and younger generations tend to leave their villages. As a result, many communities become dysfunctional, and alcoholism worsens. The economic future looks very bleak, since traditional activities are very difficult to carry on without traditional family structures and new opportunities for sustainable development bypass these poor villages.

Russia is not alone in this situation. A similar struggle has been going on for several generations now in Alaska and Northern Canada, and is beginning to bear fruit: programs have been tailored in recent years to better serve communities, villages have banned alcohol sales, new generations are educated with the knowledge of how destructive alcohol and drugs can be. And very effective local rehabilitation programs are now in place, taking into account not only the individual’s problem, but also his family and community. They stem from grassroots initiatives, often led by the women in the community, and enable people to find a new meaning to life, secure a job, go back to their traditional ways, and abandon a cycle of abuse.


Project meetings

After two exchanges, one in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in Russia and one in Alaska, the Northern Forum assisted the government of the Republic of Sakha organize a summit June 26-29, 2003, in the Republic of Sakha, attended by 250 participants from various regions of the Russian North (Sakha, Chukotka, Magadan, Khanty-Mansiisk, Evenk, Nenets, Yamalo-Nenets) as well as from Alaska and some regions of Canada. The summit helped the participants determine that one of the groups most at risk were children and youth, and that special prevention needs to be undertaken in all regions to address the problem.



                        Presidium, 2nd Healthy Lifestyle Summit, Sakha Republic, June 2003