Message in a Bottle

The government calls them acutely inebriated people at risk. But most people call them drunks. And, as such, they are easy to ignore. In fact, Yukon society has been ignoring them for decades.

The government calls them acutely inebriated people at risk. But most people call them drunks.

And, as such, they are easy to ignore.

In fact, Yukon society has been ignoring them for decades.

The territory excels at selling booze, but it does a poor job dealing with the social costs that arise from the highly addictive and personally destructive stuff.

And it fails miserably when it comes to preventing the problems in the first place.

This is what six Yukon News reporters and two photographers turned up after a two-month investigation into alcoholism in the territory.

Their work shows the problem is well defined. And that solid solutions have been proposed, but ignored.

Now, the government has assembled another task force to examine “acutely inebriated persons at risk.”

Police, doctors, emergency medical services personnel, the Salvation Army, the Yukon Hospital Corp. and First Nations will, once again, hash out the problems and solutions over the coming months.

A report will eventually be drafted, which politicians will receive sometime in the spring.

In the meantime, these persons at risk will endure another winter on the street.

Those who realize they need help will have to wait months before getting into an alcohol-treatment program and, once clean, will be dumped back among their booze-addled friends.

The problems are clear. And we know what’s needed to assist those afflicted with the disease of alcoholism – safe, clean housing, more treatment options, a post-recovery program, better support for young families and single parents and more aggressive alcohol and drug-prevention programs are good places to start.

As a society, we’re like those drunks we so disdain. We know we have a problem – we just refuse to do anything about it.

Read our special report here.