Substance abuse in Alaska dates back to the colonial times when it came to be occupied by foreigners. Alcohol was first introduced in the land by Russians and cemented by others who came later. These people imposed their foreign cultures on the Native Americans something that has today become endemic and problematic.
Substance abuse in Alaska is now a very complex problem and has led to the erosion of Alaskan culture in fact alcohol is one of the substances that are highly abused and has adversely affected the culture of the native Indians for example it has led to an increase in broken native families which in turn has led to the deterioration of Alaskan Native culture in Alaska. This research paper is mainly going to focus on alcohol abuse in Alaska by the natives.
The paper will conduct an intensive and extensive research in a bid to establish how alcohol abuse among the Alaskan has led to cultural loss. Alaska when compared to other American regions, it is somehow still behind in terms of development. Much of its land is a wilderness where Native Americans live in various isolated communities or villages something that has helped to shape their lifestyles in a unique way. In 1995, the Native Americans accounted for 17 percent of the region’s total population which amounted to 608,000.
These people depend on fishing, hunting and subsistence farming for their survival so it can in short be said they are not economically stable. Though they live in isolated villages, they experience an influx of foreigners who in one way or the other have contributed to the change of their culture for example technology in form of television and internet connection has found its way in this region something that changed their lifestyles though not like in other states (SAMHSA Press, 2007).
Their early contact with Europeans and Russians influenced their lives in many ways for example when these two came in this region, they introduced manufactured products such as beer and technical goods such as riffles, cloth and steel needles which were used in the trade with local products such as baleen, ivory and furs.
Prior to this period, many of the native communities had no exposure to many alcoholic products and even in areas where these alcoholic beverages were used they were restricted to ceremonial functions such as during religious functions when seeking transcendental experiences. Excessive consumption of these products was punishable by death especially among the Aztecs before the arrival of the Spanish settlers.
Alcohol drinking was common in the 18th century and European settlers in Alaska would drink it to the level of intoxication and thus they set an example to the natives who were not used to that and this came evident when binge became their beer of choice. Physical, social and economic challenges have also contributed to the continuity of this social disorder. After, foreign beers were introduced in the region, the local communities did not formulate laws that would control alcohol consumption and this is one of the reasons why alcohol control in these areas is next to impossible.
According to Cameron (1999), “Most researchers agree that the socioeconomic conditions of the American Indian and Alaska Native communities remain the major contributing factors to alcohol abuse in their populations. ” Surveys show that significant number of Native Alaskans was introduced to alcohol in the 1950s and this could be said to have been a bomb in disguise as by 1970s alcohol consumption amongst the Alaskan natives was a bitter reality that incapacitated almost the whole community.
Today, alcohol is a drink of choice to the Alaska natives followed by cocaine and marijuana among others but unfortunately due to their alcohol drinking habit, many social ills such as societal breakdown accompanied such as suicide cases, accidents, murder, assaults, sex crimes and psychological depression have drastically increased and especially in the 1970s. Alcohol is highly consumed in Alaska by the Eskimos who consider it as their primary choice. They are followed by Indians, then European Americans and finally by African Americans (Lincoln, M. E. 1999).