Association of American Indian Physicians announces campaign to address underage substance use

July 5, 2023

Osage County Native youth encouraged to embrace healthy hobbies and activities

Students from Osage County participate in the #SayYesAAIP campaign. 

HOMINY, OKLA. – The Association of American Indian Physicians (AAIP) has partnered with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Native American Youth Influencers (NAYI) to encourage Native American youth to say yes to a better tomorrow by saying no to underage drinking and non-medical use of prescription drugs.
AAIP is a national nonprofit working to improve the health of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities, and its SAMHSA campaign focuses on Native youth in Osage County.

“Preserving our cultures means highlighting how tomorrow’s leaders can experience positive health outcomes and grow together,” said Tom Anderson (Cherokee), executive director of AAIP. “Our communities have experience, support and resources to offer young people, and through this campaign, we hope to encourage Native youth to embrace healthy hobbies and activities; we also aim to equip elders and families with tools to inspire positive behaviors and find ways to impart wisdom and Native culture to our next generation of leaders.”

According to a study by SAMHSA, the earlier in life a young person uses drugs or alcohol, the greater their lifetime risk of addiction or misuse. AI/AN youth face unique challenges, health disparities and historical prejudices that exacerbate the impacts of underage substance use. Osage County residents include a vast representation of Native cultures and tribes that AAIP aims to reach through this new health advocacy campaign.

“Many already know firsthand the negative impacts drugs and alcohol can have on individuals and communities; we also want to highlight the good that can come from embracing healthy hobbies, activities and choices,” said Melanie Johnson (Sac and Fox Nation) director or the Whole Child Initiative for the National Indian Education Association. “By initiating familial conversations and encouraging a healthy, positive lifestyle, we can guide Native youth toward a better future and create generational change.”

The awareness campaign kicked off in May and included television and radio PSAs, billboard advertisements, an interactive website, social media influencer activism, and resources for families and youth in Osage County.

“Culture is prevention, and as a community, we need to nurture how we deliver our cultural values. We must stay committed and be consistent when we deliver substance use and misuse prevention programs,” said Raquel Ramos (Comanche), prevention specialist for the National Indian Education Association and advisor for the campaign. “We are excited about the consistency and cultural relevance this campaign will have for those in our community.”

By focusing on prevention, education and culturally sensitive interventions, AAIP hopes to improve the well-being of Native youth and families for years to come.

Learn more about the initiative by visiting


About AAIP
In 1971, fourteen American Indian and Alaska Native physicians endeavored to improve the overall health of their communities and the Association of American Indian Physicians was born. Today, hundreds of licensed and practicing physicians nationwide are committed to that same mission. AAIP pursues excellence in Native American health care by advocating education in the health sciences and honoring traditional healing principles. In addition, AAIP members directly address widely acknowledged disparities in American Indian and Alaska Native health. For more information about the Association of American Indian Physicians, see


About Native American Youth Influencers (NAYI) and Osage Partnership for Prevention (OPP)
Native American Youth Influencers (NAYI) — previously known as Osage Partnership for Prevention (OPP) — is a joint substance abuse prevention initiative between the Association of American Indian Physicians (AAIP) and the Osage Nation. The initiative connects the long-standing expertise of AAIP and the resiliency of the Osage Nation to reduce underage drinking and non-medical use of prescription drugs among 1,500 to 2,000 Native youth in the Osage Tribal Jurisdiction.