Alaska Native Elders in Recovery: Linkages between Indigenous Cultural Generativity and Sobriety to Promote Successful Aging

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20 Scopus citations


This article builds on the People Awakening (PA) Project, which explored an Alaska Native (AN) understanding of the recovery process from alcohol use disorder and sobriety. The aim of this study is to explore motivating and maintenance factors for sobriety among older AN adult participants (age 50+) from across Alaska. Ten life history narratives of Alaska Native older adults, representing Alutiiq, Athabascan, Tlingit, Yup’ik/Cup’ik Eskimos, from the PA sample were explored using thematic analysis. AN older adults are motivated to abstain from, or to quit drinking alcohol through spirituality, family influence, role socialization and others’ role modeling, and a desire to engage in indigenous cultural generative activities with their family and community. A desire to pass on their accumulated wisdom to a younger generation through engagement and sharing of culturally grounded activities and values, or indigenous cultural generativity, is a central unifying motivational and maintenance factor for sobriety. The implications of this research indicates that family, role expectations and socialization, desire for community and culture engagement, and spirituality are central features to both AN Elders’ understanding of sobriety, and more broadly, to their successful aging. Future research is needed to test these findings in population-based studies and to explore incorporation of these findings into alcohol treatment programs to support older AN adults’ desire to quit drinking and attain long-term sobriety. Sobriety can put older AN adults on a pathway to successful aging, in positions to serve as role models for their family and community, where they are provided opportunities to engage in meaningful indigenous cultural generative acts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-222
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Alaska Native
  • Alcohol
  • American Indian/Alaska Native
  • Generativity
  • Older adults
  • Sobriety


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