A whole family drowned one Sunday… a total of nine people drowned from when they were drinking and going to town. And then on the same day, two people killed themselves…And my dad said…“I feel like my people are like the Jews.” They never get over it, all the horror…They are still living in horror and shock and shame…Younger individuals described feeling torn between desires to conform to their parents’ wishes and wanting to achieve ideals they learned about on television and in school.
A young female participant noted:
In the villages, I think it is more intense, too, with a loss of direction…They have the elders and the people…banging it into their heads…, “Live the old way, live the old way,” whereas they are going to school…they don’t know which way to go: to go to their old traditional ways, or to go to college…They get lost right in between.Despair was common in both age groups, sometimes leading to attempted suicide by hanging, fi rearms, or walking out into the snow. Alcohol-related problems Among patients completing AUDIT questionnaires, 47.8% of men and 24.4% of women
met criteria for problem drinking. Common symptoms, experienced by about half of men, included being advised to cut back on their drinking, sometimes being unable to stop drinking, and
experiencing memory blackouts. Common symptoms among women, seen in about one -fourth of patients, included guilt feelings after drinking, alcohol-related injury to themselves or others, blackouts, and failure to meet their responsibilities.
Societal, educational and work consequences were identified as problems detrimental to the community as a result of drinking and drug use. Societal consequences included disorderly conduct, assaults and violent crimes, juvenile delinquency, sexual abuse, drug dealing, elder abuse/neglect, underage drinking, individuals in need of disability because of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), homelessness and imprisonment. Educational consequences emphasized the need for special education to address the needs of children afflicted by FAS. Work consequences included unreliable employees and the small labor pool resulting from failed drug testing by prospective employees
Interviewees described alcohol-related physical and sexual abuse, child neglect, hunger and marital conflict.
A middle-aged man raised by his grandmother described:
My mother would drink with my uncles….She would never know that she hit me because she would have those blackouts, but that was because she would be drinking so much, you know, that she don’t remember hitting me at all…I tried to run away, run to my grandparents’ house, and…one day they happened to see the bruises on my arms and they pulled up my shirt…She said, “Well, where did these come from?”
Effects on nuclear families included separations, divorces, and loss of children who left home, were adopted out or became wards of the state.
A female respondent described her childhood:
[My mother] was an alcoholic and a drug addict….I grew up… in a very violent home…My uncles and aunts used to drink and I would be scared to go to sleep…not knowing what I am going to wake up to…and everybody always drinking….I moved out of my mom’s house when I was 16. I dropped out of high school and then I got adopted to my grandma. Concerned family members responded to heavy drinking with arguments, rebukes, or threats. Children assumed adult responsibilities such as cooking, cleaning, or childcare.
A female discussant related:
I had to babysit my mom’s younger sister’s kids. My mom would worry about those kids, and she would order me to go take care of them because the parents chose to drink. …She would say, “Get them out as soon as they go home,” because they would start to fight and get abusive. Some family members excused acts of drunkenness or counseled their spouses about quitting. Other family members tried pouring out the alcohol, physically restraining their intoxicated spouses, locking them out of the house, or calling the police. While many older participants described growing up in traditional Inupiat villages, some younger participants grew up in the town in families where few Inupiat customs were observed and life revolved around drinking. Anger was the most frequent emotion described by family members, followed by guilt. Respondents wondered whether the “damp” ordinances which prohibited local sales of alcohol but allowed importation and private consumption had actually increased family violence. After local bars closed, most alcohol consumption occurred in homes, and alcohol-related violence was often directed at family members.