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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.