Monday, December 10, 2012

Lady Liquor: The Racial Implications of the "Disease" Model of Alcoholism

People drink for a lot of reasons: to celebrate, to grieve, to relax and, I would argue, we sometimes drink, too much, too heavily, to bear the unbearable, including systematic racism (not just on the part of indigenous peoples, but other racial minorities as well). While removing moral judgment from that coping mechanism is a step in the right direction, treating alcoholism as a disease separate from the social and historic factors that brought it about in the first place gives societies license to continue not addressing those factors. It gives dominant groups a pass to perpetuate the racist status quo, rather than helping to improve the living conditions and economic prospects of Native people. Where alcohol dependence and ongoing marginalizing intersect is where the discourse—and the treatment—should be centered.