Beware of Becoming a Victim!
PERSONS old and young are its victims. Those suffering from it in America number from nine to thirteen million; and it is on the increase throughout the world.
Besides leading to tens of thousands of highway accidents each year, it causes liver and brain damage, and often death. Even unborn offspring may suffer from its ill effects.
What are we talking about? ALCOHOLISM!
In themselves, alcoholic beverages are not bad. When used moderately, they can even be beneficial. According to the Bible, wine “makes the heart of mortal man rejoice”; it puts the heart in “a merry mood.” (Ps. 104:15; Esther 1:10) The apostle Paul suggested that his missionary companion Timothy “use a little wine” as medicine for sickness.—1 Tim. 5:23.
But why is it so common for drinking to get out of hand? This article will consider two aspects of the problem. The first is evident from the comments of two youngsters who became alcoholics.
“I started drinking wine on weekends,” explains a teen-age girl, “and right away I just loved getting drunk. Before long my whole life was revolving around getting drunk and stoned, until that’s all I was doing.” Another teen-ager remarks: “You sit down, you drink and you start laughin’, sometimes you might get silly, you know, and you’re just laughin’. Friday and Saturday nights are special. Everyone comes out with a good feeling.” In comparison with the dangers of illegal purchase and use of drugs, youths refer to getting drunk as “the high without the hassle.”
Did you notice what prompted these youngsters to become heavy drinkers? They called it the enjoyment of being “high,” or “stoned.” In this condition persons may forget, at least temporarily, the frustrations of life. Feelings of bravado replace inhibitions and thoughts of inferiority.
Though some individuals do not particularly enjoy getting “high,” others love it. Their craving for this feeling often leads to “psychological” dependence on it. They become unable to cope with life when sober. Eventually this leads to drunkenness every day.
A second aspect of problem drinking is physical addiction to alcohol. A research team of scientists reports:
“It is of paramount importance to realize that people differ in their resistance to systemic poisons, the sting of a bee, or in their reaction to the poison of ivy, even in their ability to digest such a common food as sugar.
“Our research indicates that alcohol is a drug that is addictive in varying degrees for approximately 20% of the population in the United States, but functions as a non-addictive tranquilizer for the remaining 80% under ordinary, voluntary circumstances. Alcohol consumed by the average person passes through his body, and does not leave an addictive ‘hook.’ However, some people are not able to remove the toxic by-products from their system.
“The toxic (poisonous) residue causes a disturbance in the body inducing tension, anxiety, irritability and thirst. These effects are temporarily alleviated by more of the sedative, alcohol, so they continue to drink relentlessly.”
Hence, the body chemistry of certain individuals may predispose them to alcohol addiction. If they begin to drink, they feel compelled to keep on drinking. Even persons who do not have this predisposition can become physically addicted to alcohol by continual heavy drinking.
How can people avoid becoming victims of alcoholism? First of all, there must be a willingness to think seriously about the matter and to face the fact that ‘getting a glow on’ does not solve any of the problems that the drinker may be trying to escape. When the drunkard wakes up from his alcoholic stupor, the problems are still there, accompanied by a nagging hangover. Often this drives the victim back to the bottle, a vicious cycle that plunges him into ruin. The Bible correctly states: “Wine is a ridiculer, intoxicating liquor is boisterous, and everyone going astray by it is not wise.”—Prov. 20:1.
Thinking the matter over in this way may aid a person to take a basic step toward avoiding alcohol abuse. He may well come to hate drunkenness and its horrifying consequences. Helpful is the Scriptural command: “Abhor what is wicked, cling to what is good.” (Rom. 12:9; Ps. 97:10) But thinking is not enough. Determination to shun alcohol addiction must be backed up by action. In what way?
It is very important to resist a form of pressure that often gets people started at heavy drinking. A reporter who interviewed a number of teen-age alcoholics explains how this special type of pressure affects youngsters.
“It is one that adults do not have to contend with: peer pressure. . . . for a teenager to go against the ‘crowd’ is extremely difficult. . . . Teen-agers who drink, a survey for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found, are especially vulnerable to peer pressure. They act, or do not act, almost entirely on the basis of what the ‘other kids’ do, rather than out of respect for authority.”
When someone encourages you to become drunk, do you have the strength to say No? True, your refusal may cause acquaintances to “put you down” with ridicule. But it is the wise course.
Another vital step is harmonizing your life with the Scriptural principle: “He that is walking with wise persons will become wise, but he that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.” (Prov. 13:20) Fellowship with individuals who have a wholesome outlook on life and a balanced view of drinking will greatly aid you to avoid becoming a victim of alcohol abuse. On the other hand, regular association with heavy drinkers very likely will lead you to imitate their bad habit.
Most helpful of all is seeking a relationship with the Creator, Jehovah God. His inspired Word, the Holy Bible, foretells a trouble-free system of things to begin in the near future. (Rev. 21:1-5) Having this firm assurance removes much of the frustration that drives many to drunkenness.
Too, God’s holy spirit is the most powerful force in existence for overcoming deep-seated cravings for harmful things. One of the fruits of God’s spirit, or active force, is “self-control.” (Gal. 5:22, 23) And it is free for the asking.—Luke 11:5-13.
To sum up: Think seriously about the harmful effects of alcohol abuse, and why people fall prey to it. Have the courage to say No to those who encourage excessive drinking. Seek the friendship of persons who have a healthy view of drinking.