Until my recent trip to Anchorage, Alaska, I had never heard the term “Chronic Public Inebriate,” yet in Alaska the word “inebriate” is spoken everywhere. It is so grafted in Anchorage’s culture that even the […]


Until my recent trip to Anchorage, Alaska, I had never heard the term “Chronic Public Inebriate,” yet in Alaska the word “inebriate” is spoken everywhere. It is so grafted in Anchorage’s culture that even the homeless call themselves inebriates. At first it bothered me, but I soon learned that Anchorage’s homeless problem is very complex, caused by severe alcohol addictions.

I met Kim while he was panhandling on the side of the road. His wife had gone up the street for a cup of coffee. Although to an Alaskan this last week was a bit of a heat wave, I still had a hard time holding the camera without gloves because it was so cold. Probably around 35 degrees!

Kim started drinking when he was nine years old, and he’ll be fifty-two this May. Alcoholism is a horrible disease. Looking in from the outside, people think that drinking is a choice. But at some point along the way, alcohol completely takes over and the choice is gone. Alcoholics need booze just like we all need air, making it nearly impossible to stop. Add to that the dehumanizing experience of living without permanent shelter and people will drink until they die, which is what’s happening in Alaska.

Kim is very knowledgeable about laws that local city governments are trying to pass to solve this crisis. No matter what laws are passed, people addicted to alcohol will find a way to get it. Kim talks about his friends drinking Listerine when they cannot get served. One of his friends was the first homeless inebriate found dead last year. The man’s body was found with an empty bottle of Listerine next to it.

I wish I had answers for Kim and the people of Alaska. Please watch this video and share it with everyone you know. People are dying, and we must find a solution.

Kim is homeless in Anchorage, Alaska. Click To Tweet

Special thanks to Hertz

Anchorage’s local NBC affiliate aired a story on my visit

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  • concerendperson

    I've always wanted to do what you'r doing……I have a very different view of homeless people than most people.I think maybe you share my take on the homeless.Most people think they are less than human,wasted drunks ,worthless good for nothing .They could get jobs if they wanted to change.”Don't give them money ,all they will do is spend it on alcohol.”There is a reason they became homeless and they are the same as the people that live in there fancy houses up on the hill.There was a string of homeless people showing up dead last year,it was so hard to even read the stories all I could think is there was someone out killing these people!It has stoped for the most part but DAMN……there wasn't much done about it,they were just passed off as dieing from alcohol .I don't beleive it. Anyway being homeless in Alaska isn't really something I think is easy.People stand on the corners in sub zero temps,To me having a job would be eaiser by far! But then again people make there own choices.I pray for them….and I give them a couple bucks when I have it.I think it's great you are asking them there stories .Not to much you can do but that.

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  • I'm very compassionate towards his problem and I know that people self medicate. The solution is complicated and should, in my opinion, involve greater access to anti-depressants. That said, I think the idea of preventing alcoholics from buying alcohol in any possible is a GOOD thing, so kudos Alaska on that –I say this as someone who lost her WHOLE family to alcoholism and who also volunteers helping the homeless. –Catherine

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