Micronesian families and the challenges of alcohol addiction

22 Jul 2016 By Christy Sakaziro - sakazirochristina@yahoo.com - Palau & Micronesia Humanities Project Director

Just like other people in other countries around the world, Micronesians drink alcohol during gatherings and celebrations.

For many islanders, drinking is a bonding ritual that offers both men and women the opportunity to do some community planning and sometimes air their problems.

In the past, families provided a sort of external authority to prevent things from getting out of hand.

But this is no longer true following years and years of social and political changes in Micronesia. The traditional family way of life is losing its influence and authority.

Traditional respect is losing ground to a whole set of new political and social structures. The traditional moral force exerted by family is no longer enough. There are laws that have been established and enforced in many islands of Micronesia, but alcohol addiction rooted in a variety of social problems continues to be a challenge for many families.

Virtually all of the domestic abuse cases in some Micronesian communities were associated with alcohol use. Nearly half of all suicide victims were drunk at the time of the act, or had a history of heavy alcohol or drug use. Ninety percent of arrests were alcohol-related. In some areas, nearly one-third of all revenue went to imported beer and alcohol. Half of all hospital admissions were alcohol-related. (Source: “Changes in the Micronesian Family Structure Leading to Alcoholism, Suicide, and Child Abuse and Neglect” by Donald H. Rubinstein, 1987).

The cost is immeasurably heavy in terms of the social, economic and health consequences of excessive alcohol use in Micronesia.

There is an extensive literature on alcohol abuse and control in Micronesia, and although Micronesian communities appear to be developing new and effective social responses, a lot more has to be done.

According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s World Drink Trends, the per capita consumption in the Federated States of Micronesia in 1992 was 1.4 liters of pure alcohol. The breakdown of the per capita consumption by states was as follows: Yap (5.3 liters), Kosrae (2.5 liters), Pohnpei (1.2 liters) and Chuuk (0.5 liter).

The same survey also found that the rate of daily drinkers among current drinkers was 11 percent total, 11 percent males and 7 percent females. The average number of drinks taken by an alcohol user on a drinking day was 13.

The traditional family structure may not fit this era of ever changing lifestyles, but what seems to work is to use the strengths of traditional culture in designing new forms of effective authority lines to provide collective support for families and safeguards for children.

Family support for one another may yet overcome these social issues.



  • hey don't mind that because he is irritating..i think he must be marshallese...
  • we can limit the amount of alcohol we are geting frm da foreign countries....
  • learn the true meaning of love and order then followed actions will not disappoint you or anyone. in fact, it is one issue that not just us who have been challenge on how to control but it is the similar deal with most countries. so, I was once a hard drinker but has given up this social life style because of the same reason as those who had given up this dead end social indulgence. You my friends, we can come with all the techniques to fight off or cease the problem of sakauwen wai but it must take strong will to accomplish such vision. I do not know how others were successful in dealing with alcohol but for me is one thing only. I realized and convinced myself that I do not have the capacity or will to fight is alone but have given the Lord God to help me. Thanks
  • What the!!! Who wrote the article!!

  • I am too exhumed to do more reading and research, who says Micronesian women get together to drink? LOL

    SCRATCHING THE SIDES MUCH? Please be very careful with what you throw out there regarding Chuukese and alcohol. ..
  • yup..it is true.....
  • So what if they are tough... you want to eat some Chuukese punches or what? LOL
  • thanks oily_Mars that is the only way my friend. a foolish man will yield and face its consequences. But a wise man will always look the other way which is does not retaliate but just walk away or ignore the situation. Be nice MC. Thanks
  • Not true micro man. Walking away is taboo.
  • Alcohol kills brain cell and it makes you have nad breath and quicken makes one look older then one is. Those who can't handle their liquor should only drink kool aid and water. It also rots your teeth and does damage to ones organs especially the liver and lungs.
  • Moderate alcohol consumption is therapeutic to your health. Drink responsibly and mate.
  • just like our motto,be responsible for your own doing...
  • ain't the discussion earmark on alcohol abusiveness? which means to me we're trying find ways to help control those who could not settle on just moderate drinks isn't that is what we are talking about now?
  • ohia!!!yes ur rite....
  • Only russians find alcohol therapeutic. Wine is good for the heart but alcohol like vodka and beer or any hard liquor is not. Alcohol is the leading cause of death in Micronesia. Sakau is therapeutic but alcohol hell no.
  • ehehe..darn right u are rastaman...lol
  • In last year my alcohol and opiate was on peak and I couldn’t help myself regarding this. My wife took me to an opiate detox norfolk center where I got treatment for opiate and since I was over there for a couple of days and was living without alcohol so it helped me to leave alcohol too.
  • Chuuk at 0.5 liters...That is amazing!
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