One of the alcoholic products that have greatly affected the Alaskan natives is a drink known as binge and it has mostly affected the Minto community. Many of the residents of this village, about 90 percent are unemployed and therefore instead of them being engaged in more economically productive activities, they spend most of their time taking this beer despite the fact the government’s efforts to control it.
Other villages that are affected are the Barrow , Point Hope, Wainwright and Kaktovic where alcohol is illegal in fact possession and selling of alcohol in Barrow is a felony and is considered a criminal offense that is punishable by a sentence of about five years in prison. In these regions, beer is only sold to Alaskan individuals who possess an alcohol permit which costs fifty US dollars per year plus any administration charged that are determined from time to time. These people have to order alcohol from Fairbanks town which is a distance of about five hundred miles.
The problem has come to the attention of the public due to its related fatalistic behaviours such as cold weather exposure, increase in suicide cases and high rate of accidents that could have been avoided (Berman and Hull 1997). According Gale in Eric Digest (1991), statistics show that 50 percent of all American youth have tasted alcohol but when this is compared with the Alaskan native youth it was found that 80 percent of them were affected. As per the NHSDA report (2003), Alaskan natives who had abused substances such as alcohol and illicit drugs were many in the period between 1999 and 2001 than youths from other native communities.
Binge drinking, cigarette use and illicit drugs according to the same report were the drugs that were most abused by the Alaskan native youths. According to CDC report, Alaskan natives are much more affected by alcohol related deaths than other populations in the region to add weight to this report is another survey that was done in 2008 that showed that twelve percent of all deaths that had occurred in the past four years were alcohol related. According to the Alaska’s department of Health and Social Services, 12 percent of the adult populations are victims of drug abuse and it is estimated that each person consumes about 3.
21 gallons of alcohol annually making the state fourth in the rate of alcohol consumption per capita. As per a new study that was done in 2007, it was found that it is less likely for Alaska native children below the age of twelve or slightly higher than this to have used alcohol than children from other racial groups. Still on the same report, it was found out that the number of alcohol related disorders were higher in Alaskan natives than in other racial groups for example the survey showed that 10. 6 of the natives had these disorders compared to the 5. 0 percent of the Indian Americans and the least to be affected were other racial groups which accounted for only 2. 9 percent (SAMHSA press, 2007). Alcohol drinking amongst the Alaskan natives could be understood as a culture.
There are factors that make these communities value this liquor more than anything else and these are the factors that make alcohol control programs fail to materialize. This community now feels it is its responsibility to protect their cultural behaviours such as drinking traditional beer like binge which somehow was at risk of being eroded by those from other cultures such as distilled wine and bottled beer.
The paternalistic nature of the current government and the experiences of culture shock exposed to them by western cultures make these people to be more conservative because as this intensifies the more they continue holding onto their cultures. Another thing that perhaps leads to the increased drinking habits among these natives is the fact that when colonialist settled in this region, they started criticizing their cultures saying they were superstitious and evil and that they would only be saved if they accepted their western religions.
Their children would forcibly be taken to schools and be punished if they communicated using their native languages. The state also distanced western cultures from that of the natives and perhaps it is for these reasons that when counselors from different racial groups would go to teach and counsel them they ignore and dismiss them terming them as social misfits. They resist change so that they would preserve their cultural integrity (The Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, 1999; 42).