Elise Patkotak: Booze wars in Alaska Native villages
"As a veteran of the Barrow Booze Wars, my heart goes out to the good people of the Bethel region as they wrestle with a problem that seems all too intractable. Booze in Bush Alaska has created more death and destruction of families, villages and cultures than anything since the flu epidemics of the early part of the last century.

So the question must be asked as to why booze continues to be such a demon in this state in general, but in the Bush in particular.

The statistics that are quoted with monotonous regularity seem to show that Bush Alaska would be a quiet and peaceful place without booze. Some statistics go so far as to suggest that 9 out of 10 random criminal acts in the Bush are fueled by alcohol. The state and federal governments have poured hundred of millions of dollars into funding programs to treat the disease and try to come up with alternatives that will keep young people from taking that first step toward disaster. But continuing horrific statistics seem to point to failure on all fronts in this war.

Now, before people start hitting the send button on their e-mails, let me hasten to add that I am well aware that there are some programs that seem to show some success in treating alcohol problems. I am also very aware that for many people in this state, sobriety means giving up booze but smoking pot daily. One could quibble about whether they are technically sober or not. Definitions of sobriety can be slippery in reality, if not academically."

Get the Story:
Elise Patkotak: Solution to alcohol abuse remains elusive (The Anchorage Daily News 1/6)

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