Purpose: The Warrior Down program is set out to provide a relapse prevention and recovery support program for Native Americans who are completing treatment, returning to the community from incarceration, or who have been working on their recovery journey using traditional method or 12 Step methods and who wish to provide support to others experiencing the same issues. This program is now being adopted by other peer support groups, and recovery champion,s as a proactive and effective program in support of those on the frontline who lapse or relapse while carrying the message to newcomers out there in our communities.
What is Warrior Down?
Warrior Down is the cry used to signify that a warrior has been wounded or incapacitated in some way and
needs help. The Warrior Down program creates the response team that provides the support and finds the
resources to get that warrior back into their recovery process. This is a peer to peer program that is designed to
equip Native Americans, and more recently peers and recovery champions in the UK, in recovery to provide recovery support and community referrals for others in recovery.
Recovery is not just staying sober. It is a way of experiencing life through new eyes, new thoughts, and a new
spirit. Re-establishing one’s life following treatment for alcohol or substance abuse, or following incarceration
requires a community effort. Without the support of a knowledgable family, peers and community, many who try
return to healthy, productive lives find themselves frustrated by the need for job, training, education, housing,
transportation, mental health care or medical support, social services, spiritual and cultural support or connections
with others who value sobriety and healthy life ways.
Cultural and Spiritual Support for Recovery and Re-Entry.
For many Native American people the path to healing is found through traditional cultural and spiritual practices.
Healing processes might include talking circles, healing circles and traditional ceremonies. Ceremonial
activities have a distinctly spiritual focus, and the incorporation of intergenerational activities that include both
elders and children in the healing process are essential for the well-being of men and women in Native communities.
The teachings of the Elders and the Clan Mothers provide wisdom and guidance. The spiritual practices
provide pathways to meaning and purpose in life, and the cultural activities create a social and emotional
foundation for reconnecting and reestablishing a sense of belonging and identity. In addition, for those who
have come to understand and who have learned to live a joyfilled life of recovery have a strong desire to share
what they have learned and provide support for those who continue to struggle. Culturally appropriate aftercare
and re-entry programs provide opportunities for Native Americans to reconnect to their communities and to
create a healthy life that reflects a balance emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. We call this a life
of Wellbriety. The Warrior Down program is one of the resources that can be used to assist those reentering the
community from treatment or incarceration to achieve Wellbriety.
Re-entry Begins in the treatment environment but must be recognised as just that, a beginning. This is merely the start of the journey where a solid foundation can be put in place for the individual to build on. Structured recognised treatment options are not the only way of re-entry and there has to be recognition given here to other forms of mutual aid and peer support as a valid and sometimes more effective way of introducing an individual to the early stages of recovery.
Phase I: Programs for Re-Entry within the Treatment Setting
Medicine Wheel and 12 Step curriculum:
A 12 Step recovery program designed to meet the spiritual and cultural needs of Native
Therapeutic Communties: A community approach to recovery using traditional practices
and based upon the 14 Competencies forTherapeutic Communities designed by Dr. David
Fatherhood Initiative: A traditional approach to learning principles and strategies for effective
fathering for Native American men who have been separated from their families by prison
Phase II: Re-Entry Continues in the Pre-Release
and Half-way House Environment.
Medicine Wheel and 12 Step (Circles of Recovery):
A 12 Step recovery program designed to meet the spiritual and
cultural needs of Native Americans, facilitated by Firestarters
who are peers in the Native American recovery community.
Warrior Down: A community support program for relapse
prevention that helps individuals find work, get back into school,
connect with emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual resources.
Peers in the Native American recovery community provide
support as recovery coaches to help the individual find the
resources needed while gaining confidence in the recovery
Families of Tradition: A facilitated support program to help families learn to work together following the
incarceration or treatment of one of its members. Many of these programs are sponsored by family and social
services agencies to help reunite families and reintegrate children who have been in foster care.
Phase III: Returning to the Home Community
Medicine Wheel and 12 Steps (Circles of Recovery):
Firestarters in local communities have set up Circles of
Recovery that are available to those returning from
prison or treatment centers. Native American recovery
Warrior Down: A community support program for relapse
prevention that helps individuals find work, get back into
school, connect with emotional, mental,physical, and spiritual
resources. Peers in the Native American recovery community
provide support as recovery coaches to help the
individual find the resources needed while gaining confidence
in the recovery process.
Traditional Healing Approaches:
Communities are encouraged to invite the Elders and spiritual
advisors to participate in the Recovery support and relapse
prevention processes. In addition, many communities have
institued re-naming ceremonies to help reintegrate people into
the community. Sweatlodge and pipe ceremonies are often
used to support recovery and prevent relapse. Wellbriety
Drums serve to inspire and help participants make the commitment
to Wellbriety, a sober and healthy lifestyle that is
balance emotional, mentally, physically, and spiritually.
The Firestarter Training is designed to teach individuals how to facilitate a cultural approach to
recovery, as peers, using the Medicine Wheel and 12 Step curriculum. In addition, participants
learn how to provide referral and support services as Recovery Coaches. The Medicine Wheel
and 12 Step program was developed to provide a culturally appropriate 12 Step program for
Native American people. This program was developed by White Bison, based upon Teachings of
the Medicine Wheel, the Cycle of Life and the Four Laws of Change.
Wisdom of the Elders
The Medicine Wheel and 12 Step program is
designed in a series of modules that enable people
to meet their individual needs. In addition,
participants share their insights and experiences
in a talking circle. They also learn how to
mind map their own innate knowledge around
these teachings and then apply that knowledge to
their daily lives and decision making processes.
The Four Laws of Change
These laws were given to White Bison
by Native American Elders.
1. Change comes from within.
2. In order for development to occur,
it must be preceded by a vision.
3. A great learning must occur.
4. You must create a healing forest.