Unintended consequences of local alcohol restrictions in rural Alaska

J Ethn Subst Abuse. 2018 Jan-Mar;17(1):16-31. doi: 10.1080/15332640.2017.1362728. Epub 2017 Oct 16.


Since 1981, Alaskans have had the ability to enact by referendum local restrictions in alcohol sales, importation, and possession, known as "local options." Intended to empower rural communities to reduce alcohol abuse and associated violence and trauma, the "local option" laws have led to unintended consequences as individuals in alcohol-restricted communities seek intoxication from both legal and illegal sources of alcohol. Based on 68 interviews with 72 community members in eight rural sites in Alaska, this article examines these unintended consequences of local options restrictions and provides context to the challenges rural communities face in implementing alcohol policies.

Keywords: Alaska; alcohol; indigenous; law; policy; restrictions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alaska / ethnology
  • Alcohol Drinking / ethnology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Alcoholic Beverages*
  • Alcoholism / ethnology*
  • Alcoholism / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Qualitative Research
  • Rural Population*