Fighting Firewater Fictions: Moving Beyond the Disease Model of Alcoholism in First Nations

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University of Toronto Press, Jan 1, 2004 - Social Science - 407 pages

In Fighting Firewater Fictions, Richard W. Thatcher describes and explains the emergence and perpetuation of the 'firewater complex' ? the cultural construct of an informally sanctioned, destructive, binge-drinking norm in First Nations reserve communities.

The complex has reified alcoholism as an inevitability in the First Nations ? an approach that has resulted in essential aspects of collective and personal responsibility being vacated in favour of therapeutic interventions assisted by social personnel of questionable expertise. This substitution has had the effect of relieving government policy-makers and reserve leadership from accountability for problematic community development strategies that have long since outgrown their support capacities.

Thatcher argues that the conditions that give rise to extraordinary alcohol abuse rates in First Nations are largely traceable to the hopelessness associated with multi-generational unemployment. Fighting Firewater Fictions calls for community re-organization around a band development policy that looks beyond the reserve, and outlines a strategy that shifts the current, exclusive emphasis on the needs of alcoholics towards the neglected counselling and non-residential service needs of potential or actual binge-drinkers. This is essential reading for anybody working in, or seeking to understand, aboriginal communities that are experiencing problems with alcoholism.

 

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Contents

Introduction
3
Drinking as Pastime and Problem in First
15
A Social Problem Inviting Various Control
28
The Reasoning and Allure of the Disease
61
Challenges to the Disease Model as an Explanation of Problem
73
The Profession of Medicine
96
The Firewater Complex
114
Violence and the Firewater Complex
145
The Genesis of Alcohol Abuse Norms in First Nation Reserve
166
Governmental and Community Reinforcement of the Firewater
194
Targeting the Root System of Problem
265
Effective Prevention Programming Directly Targeted on Alcohol
284
An Overview
304
Effective Therapies for Problem Drinkers and AlcoholDependent
322
Conclusion
349
Index
391

Explanations of Problem Drinking in First Nations That Fall
155

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About the author (2004)

Richard W. Thatcher is the principal consultant and co-owner of Socio-Tech Consulting Services in Craven, Saskatchewan.

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