Alcoholism affects all races and cultures, but it is particularly prevalent among Native American tribes. Some believe this to be a result of genetic factors; others blame it on the introduction of alcohol to Native Americans by European settlers; while still others blame it on the nature of Native American culture. Regardless of the cause, alcoholism is a serious health risk to any individual, as it can lead to liver problems and certain types of cancers, malnutrition, brain damage, and even death.
Members of the Native American Church regularly use peyote to treat people with alcoholism or other types of drug addiction. They recommend that it be taken every day for a few weeks or months, with hopes that the person will be cured of their addiction. Despite anecdotal reports that peyote can be used to cure someone of alcoholism, scientific research suggests that psychedelic drugs, when given in a hospital or laboratory setting, rarely produce any changes in motivation or attitude that might lead a person to give up drinking alcohol or taking drugs. Rather, it is thought that the combination of an influential tribal leader, a close-knit group of followers and supporters, and the deep self-awareness brought on by the peyote experience may lead a person to change his or her beliefs and attitudes toward substance abuse.5 Thus, to anyone outside the Native American culture, peyote is probably of limited use in treating any type of addiction.
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