The Alcohol Problem

Edwin Broadus
Duluth, Minn.

Many of man's problems are nearly as old as man himself, and the alcohol problem is no exception. The first specific Biblical reference to strong drink is to its use by Noah, but there is no reason to suppose that he was the first to be drunk. In fact, Jesus said that in the days before the flood men were eating and drinking, which would suggest that some were also getting drunk.

The Case Against Alcohol

That alcohol is a problem is a fact incapable of successful refutation. Any would-be doubters can ponder these tragic facts:

(1) 60 to 70 million people in the United States drink-60 percent of the adult population.

(2) Four million Americans are alcoholics - one out of every 16 drinkers.

(3) Three million more are problem drinkers - people whose drinking involves them in business or marital difficulties, or accidents.

(4) These seven million alcoholics and problem drinkers have approximately 35 million relatives suffering heartache and injury because of alcohol.

(5) More arrests are made for drunkenness than for any other breach of law besides traffic violations.

(6) Alcohol is a factor in at least half of all the more serious crimes committed - according to a survey of 13,000 convicts.

(7) Drink is the largest single factor in marriage breakdowns - -according to a study of 7,000 broken marriages.

(8) Alcohol is involved in at least 20 per cent of all fatal accidents - and this is regarded by some as a gross underestimate.

(9) Taxpayers pay 750 million dollars P. year to care for alcoholics.

(10) Absenteeism due to alcohol costs industry one billion dollars a year.

The reason for all this is readily apparent. Alcohol is a depressant, dulling the brain almost immediately after being taken internally. Since alcohol requires no digestion, it enters the blood stream immediately, and reaches the brain within one or two minutes. This dulling of the brain slows reaction, impairs judgement, and reduces inhibitions. Hence, the man with alcohol in his blood stream is more accident-prone, more foolhardy, and more unrestrained, acting in ways that he would not dare to act if sober.

No Positive Value

This is the case against alcohol. Alcohol has no positive value upon which to build a case for it. Reasons once offered for its use are now recognized to be untenable. It is not a stimulant, as some have supposed, but a narcotic, a depressant, exercising an anesthetic effect on the brain. Neither does it have medicinal value. Dr. Howard A. Kelly, physician and professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, said, "There is no single disease in the world of which alcohol is a cure. Since alcohol cures no disease, it is not a medicine. It has no place in medical practice." Nor does alcohol have any food value. It contains no calories, no vitamins, no proteins, and no minerals. It has no body building, nourishing elements, and no strength can be derived from it.

It is no wonder that the Bible condemns drunkenness so emphatically. It is called a work of darkness (Rom. 13: 12-14) , those guilty cannot inherit the kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:9-11; Gal. 5:19-21) ; and brethren guilty of it are to be withdrawn from (I Cor. 5:9-11).

"Moderate Drinking"

But what about "moderate" drinking? Many approve of it and claim that they may practice it successfully. Those upholding and practicing it should consider the following risks:

(1) The person who begins as a moderate drinker all too often becomes art alcoholic or problem drinker. One out of nine does, -- but no one ever does who does not take the first drink. If a person asked for volunteers to line up along a wall, telling us that one out of nine would be shot, would any man be foolish enough to volunteer? Even if the survivors were to receive a thousand dollars apiece, would any of us be foolish enough to take a chance?

(2) Judgment is weakened. One does not have to be "dead drunk" Lo have his inhibitions 'weakened by alcohol. A little bit is enough to cause him to make a fool of himself, or to result in a serious accident.

(3) A bad example is set. Sons and daughters often drink because their fathers do. One recent survey revealed that approximately one-half of all college students who drink had their first drink at home. Many a moderate drinker has set the example that made an alcoholic out of some weaker person. What right has anyone to wreck another man's life? Paul said, "It is good not to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor to do anything whereby thy brother stumbleth."' (Rom. 14:23).


Hence, moderate drinking is not the solution, but the cause of the alcohol problem. Dr. Seldon D. Bacon, director of the center of alcohol studies at Yale University, said, "If there were no alcohol, there would be no problems related to alcohol. There is no question about that."

We cannot eliminate alcohol, but we can keep from drinking it. And we can likewise do everything within our power to keep others from drinking it. Alcohol has no rightful place in any man's life. It brings heartache and tragedy in this life, and separation from God in the hereafter.

It's Nobody's Business ????

"It's nobody's business what I drink;

I care not what my neighbors think;

Or how many laws they choose to pass

I'll tell the world I'll have my glass!

Here's one man's freedom cannot be curbed:

My right to drink is undisturbed."

So he drank in spite of law or man,

Then got into his old "tin can."

Stepped on the gas and let it go

Down the highway to and fro.

He took the Curves at fifty miles

With bleary eyes and drunken smiles.

Not long 'till a car he tried to pass,

Then a crash, a scream-and breaking glass.

The other car is upside down

About two miles from the nearest town.

The man is clear but his wife is caught,

And he needs the help of that drunken sot

Who sits in a maudlin drunken daze,

And hears the screams and sees the blaze,

But too far gone to save a life,

By helping the car from off the wife.

The car is burned and a mother dies,

While a husband weeps and a baby cries

And a drunk sits by-and still some think

It's nobody's business what they drink.

-George Y. Hammond

Truth Magazine I:4, pp. 16-17
January, 1957