_Alcohol and Me

‘I Guess I Thought I Was Invincible’

January 4th, 2014

Twice a day, Larry Berg responds to the sound of a siren coming from his south Anchorage bedroom. He must blow into an alcohol monitor on his dresser and prove to Alaska Pretrail Services and the state that he hasn’t been drinking. If he drinks or misses a test, he’ll go back to jail to […]

‘It’s a blessing to have gone through such bad stuff’

December 31st, 2013

Within weeks of landing in Anchorage, George McBee was learning how to be homeless on the streets of Anchorage. Camping on “Party Hill,” a slope of urban woods just a block from Bean’s Cafe, experienced street people showed him how to keep condensation out of his tent and taught him not to “party” alone. It […]

Alcohol & Me: ‘I don’t believe anymore that I’m nothing’

December 15th, 2013

Looking back on the person she used to be, Donna Fischer isn’t sure whether she wants to slap that woman or just give her a hug. Starting at age 9, alcohol was her companion as she made choices that led her to juvenile detention and several prison terms as an adult. Felony drug possession and […]

“We’re sharing the same nightmare”

December 7th, 2013

On Friday evening, Jamey and Dayna Durr stood with Gary and Shanna McPheters in an icy parking lot along Abbott Road. Surrounded by about 50 of their friends and supporters, they lit candles in memory of their daughters, Jordyn Durr and Brooke McPheters, who died at that spot in August. The two 15-year-olds were struck […]

‘Limitless amounts of money, as long as they’re not caught’

November 29th, 2013

In the northernmost city in the United States, Barrow police say enforcing the local ban on alcohol sales is a top priority for detectives like Det. Sgt. Nick Sundai. Head of investigators for the North Slope Borough Police Department, Sundai said his unit has several unique tools to suppress bootleg booze. Among them: – The […]

‘I think about my past and it hurts me inside’

November 29th, 2013

At about age 14, Thomas Ahtuangaruak, Jr., was confused when someone in Wainwright offered to pay $100 to a family member for juice. “No, not that kind of juice,” the family member explained. T.A., as he is known, walked away with $50 for handing off a bottle of liquor. “That got me started, right there,” […]

‘Acknowledging these things is the only way to heal’

November 27th, 2013

Born and raised in Hoonah, Kyle Wark remembers sitting in the family car as his mother drove him home, drunk and swerving. When they arrived at the house she passed out on the steering wheel, horn blaring, he said. Wark was 29 when she died. Today, he studies alcohol use among Alaska Natives as a […]

‘I’ve got a lot of apologizing to do’

November 8th, 2013

Lecon Chuitt grew up in Tyonek picking raisins out of his parents’ homebrew, he said. He was 8-years-old when his brother, 13, got drunk and killed himself. By the time he was a teenager, Chuitt was binge drinking too. A prison escape and armed robbery spree in his 20s landed him in prison for much […]

On the streets of Nome

October 30th, 2013

Nome was once known as the boneyard of the Bering Strait region. Visitors from surrounding villages died and disappeared so frequently that the FBI launched an investigation, concluding that many had succumbed to the bitter wind and cold after drinking. Today, something has changed. City officials said no one has died or gone missing in […]

Voting on prohibition

October 21st, 2013

The Inupiat village of Shishmaref is the latest Alaska town to face a thorny, high-stakes choice. Voters are expected decide in a city election Tuesday whether to lift a 30-year-old ban on alcohol. Here, three voters say why they’re voting wet or dry. “We need to train and raise our kids to be responsible because […]