Alcohol and Alcoholics
December 5, 1958 was the twenty-fifth anniversary of the repeal of the Prohibition Act in these United States. For thirteen years the making, selling, or transporting of alcohol for beverage purposes was illegal but in 1933 the Act was repealed. On the twenty-fifth anniversary of the repeal, a TV newscast attempted to show that "Prohibition was not the answer." To do this, various fragments of old movie film depicting the bootlegging devices and portraying the mad craze of those who would indulge were shown. The conclusion from that "one side" of the picture was, "Prohibition was not the answer."
Perhaps prohibition did not fully bring the cessation of indulgence in alcohol, but let's not be so naive as to accept that bold statement without at least taking a look at some things on the other side of the picture.
"During the first ten years of national prohibition, the death rate from alcohol decreased by 42%, as compared with the previous decade under legalized liquor. During this same period, insanity, due to alcoholism, decreased by 66%. Drunkenness decreased by 70%. There was 54% less crime during the period."
The amount of alcoholic beverage consumed yearly is reported per capita. In 1934, the first year of repeal, America consumed enough beer, wine and whiskey to amount to eight gallons per man, woman and child. Only twenty years later, 1954, the per capita average had increased by ten gallons, the amount then being 18 gallons per person. Though prohibition may not have had all the answers, honesty demands that we admit that it was nearer the solution than our present situation.
The number of alcoholics increases yearly so that according to statistics released by the Yale Center of Alcohol Studies and reported in the American Review of Eastern Orthodoxy, alcoholics now number one out of every twenty-one American adults. According to their report, the total number of alcoholics is 5,015,000, or a rate of 4,760 per 100,000 adult population.
During the decade from 1940 to 1950, the estimated number of alcoholics increased from 2,632,000, a ratio of 3,050 per 100,000, to 3,876,000 or a ratio of 3,890 per 100,000. By simple subtraction, it will be seen that the ratio increased by 840 persons per 100,000 during that ten years. From 1940 the number of alcoholics has increased by 2,383,000, or 140,177 per year for the past seventeen years. But this is not so startling when we see that "7,000,000 adult Americans are heavy, addictive drinkers, and the number is increasing at the rate of 250,000 yearly."
Some of the reasons for legalizing alcoholic beverages are to prevent bootlegging and the gleaning of revenue from taxes. But a representative in Congress, as reported in the U.S. News and World Report, said, "Bootlegging is a bigger business today than ever." And as to the revenue side of alcohol, "In 1954 the Federal Government spent 178 million dollars more for its liquor crime bill than was received in liquor revenues. In a recent year, Massachusetts spent $4.82 on liquor caused crime and care of alcoholics for each dollar received in revenue." Judge Joseph Zottoll of Boston is quoted as saying, "It costs America twenty dollars for every dollar we receive from the liquor business."
Crime is at in all time high, and "a judge in San Francisco reported to the Associated Press that 46% of all crimes committed in San Francisco and tried in his court were the direct result of alcohol;" yet we hear, "Prohibition was not the answer." The Federal Bureau of Investigation said in Washington that 1958 will be the worst year in history for crime in the U.S.A. During the first nine months of the year the crime rate had increased 11%." (American Review of Eastern Orthodoxy, Vol. 4, No. 9). Concerning arrests in general, the Methodist General Board of Temperance states, "Sixty per cent of all metropolitan arrests are alcohol related." Sen. Kefauver is quoted as saying, 'Without fear of contradiction, I say that corruption of law enforcement officers is rampant in many American communities today on a scale that makes the corruption of prohibition days look like a kindergarten party (Christian Century, Feb. 28, 1951 as quoted by J.D. Willeford). Will someone still affirm, "Prohibition was not the answer"?
No doubt, every person who becomes an alcoholic does so unintentionally by first taking a "social drink." One does not become an alcoholic immediately, but it is a gradual process of growth into the habit of alcohol consumption. "Rome was not built in a day." Becoming all alcoholic is not in the plans of the person who takes his first drink.
The threat to the social drinker is readily seen in this quote from the Ann Landers column, Chicago Sun Times, August, 1958: "Dear Ann, My husband and I have been married for 16 years. At first he was just a social drinker. I thought little of it until he began to get socially cockeyed four nights a week. His absentee record it the plant got so bad he was demoted. For the past three years
he has averaged five cases of beer and three bottles of whiskey a week . . ." "One out of every 16 adult drinkers will become an alcoholic." (Gen. Board of Temperance of Methodist Church.)
Yet we hear of more religious organizations upholding the practice of "social drinking" such as the recently published position of the Episcopalian Church, and of course, Catholicism not only upholds it but is one of the worlds largest manufacturers of the "devil's brew." This in spite of the condemnation of it in the scriptures.
The alcohol industry has as its aim to get into every home and thereby get more drinkers. "Already 55 per cent of such beverages sold in America today is sold in food stores to the housewife, and home consumption of beer alone has increased 28 per cent in five years." More and more radio and TV advertising is being done as well as their campaign in magazines and newspapers. "$400,000,000 is spent each year by alcohol advertisers for time and space alone." Advertising is being directed to the youth of our fair land so that "in some American communities 85 per cent of the high school youth have reported that they drink occasionally." The danger in this is magnified when we observe that "about 70% of chronic alcoholics start drinking as teen-agers."
They endeavor to carry out this aim even at the expense of the millions of lives being completely ruined by alcohol. And think not that they are not accomplishing their aim. In a survey of "Teen Drinkers" reported on in a Chicago newspaper in 1957 it is stated, "Half of today's teen-agers reported that both their parents are teetotalers. Twenty-five per cent said that one parent drinks, but the other does not, and twenty-one per cent, that both father and mother use alcoholic beverages."
Helpers in alcohol's aims are the churches who advocate the use of such. This was proven in the same survey above mentioned, "Drinking is higher among Catholic parents than Protestants," and if the various Protestant sects had been surveyed individually, this writer is confident drinking would have been characteristic of those that uphold social drinking to a greater degree than among others.
The liquor establishments exceed churches in number. "The number of establishments in the U.S.A., licensed to sell beer-wine-or liquor, exceed by more than 131,000 the, total of all churches, synagogues and other places of religious worship.
"The Methodist Temperance Board reports that there are 275,826 licensed sellers of liquor and 162,057 drinking places that sell only beer. A grand total of 437,933.
"At the same time, there are only 306,893 places of worship . . ."
"During the year ending June 30, 1958, there was a decrease in the number of licensed places for sale of beverages. On the other hand, in the same period, 1,444 new churches and synagogue were built.
"To offset this loss in beverage outlets, it has been also reported that the Distilled Spirits Institute will now use female models in advertisements for hard liquor. This violates a 25- year voluntary beverage industry code against the use of women in advertising. The industry has also made an apparent decision to begin advertising on radio and television, something which has not been done by hard liquor distillers before. (The National Association of Broadcasters has had a voluntary code against accepting such advertising - this has now been violated by two small radio stations, WOMT, Manitowoc, Wis., and WCRB, Waltham, Mass., who are accepting advertising for hard liquor.)' (American Review of Eastern Orthodoxy, Vol. 4, No. 9).
With hard liquor distillers using female models in the near nude before a sex mad society and bringing their products right into the living rooms of American homes via television, what is there to prevent its accomplishing its aims? Only one thing, the word of God.
The scriptures condemn the use of alcohol. "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise." (Prov. 20:1) "Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder." (Prov. 23:29-32) "Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness . . ." (Rom. 13:13) "It is good to neither eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak." (Rom. 14:21 ) "Abstain from all appearance of evil." (I Thess. 5:22).
Alcohol is a threat to our society. Let us not be asleep to its aims.
(In this article, use has been made of the sermons by James D. Willeford titled, "Is It Nothing To You?", various bulletins, pamphlets and such like.)
Truth Magazine, III:10, p. 2-4