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Tribal officials say money needed for drug treatment, prevention

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Tribal members say substance abuse among American Indian youth has reached epidemic levels and can only be battled with more money for prevention and treatment.

Members gathered in Oklahoma City Tuesday for the National Indian Health Board Consumer Conference are asking state and federal leaders for help.

Officials with the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration say American Indians have the highest rate of substance abuse. They say American Indians lead all racial and ethnic groups in binge alcohol use and mental illness.

Agency director Charles Currie says suicide rates for American Indians are up to three times the national average and the second leading cause of death for people 15 to 24.

Currie blames a lack of funding nationwide and the geographic isolation of some tribes.
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