If a deadly disease was killing one out of ten of your family, friends and co-workers, you would probably be upset, outraged and clamoring for something to be done. But wait, there is already something out there killing our loved ones, friends and neighbors. Its name is alcohol, and nobody seems to care. A recent report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that excessive alcohol consumption is the leading cause of premature death among working-age adults. It included the shocking news that one in ten working-age adults die from excessive drinking. Hello! Does anybody care? Or are you content to watch them die prematurely?
Early death from alcohol is only part of the problem. Add to this the broken homes, the lost jobs, the poverty, the neglected children, the spousal abuse, and the crimes associated with alcohol misuse – our prisons are filled with those who committed crimes under the influence. The cost of drunkenness to our society is unfathomable. Yet, the response to this human holocaust is deafening silence. We are constantly warned about tobacco and drug use but hear hardly a peep about alcohol. Why are there not daily stories in the media about the great danger of alcohol? No, instead we read stories that moderate use of alcohol is good for your health. These studies and reports are sponsored by the same ones who are making big money off the people it harms. Why aren’t our leaders concerned, and why aren’t there demands to at least warn people about the dangers of drinking? Rather, we are bombarded by slick ads from the liquor industry targeting young people with the impression that happiness wondrously appears when alcohol is consumed. At the same time, they disguise the fact that alcohol may well destroy one’s life. And their little disclaimer “Drink Responsibly” is like asking the fox to guard the henhouse. Big alcohol spends over two billion dollars a year in advertising encouraging people to drink. Alcohol sales results in billions of dollars of income for these companies while individuals and society suffer under its effects.
The problems caused by drinking are readily apparent on the Iron Range where the bar long ago replaced the church as the primary social institution. Visitors are astounded with the number of drinking establishments in our towns. We all know families and individuals suffering because of alcohol. We all have a friend or loved one who has died prematurely from its use. I grew up in an alcoholic household and prayed every day that my dad would come from work sober. I witnessed the chaos alcohol caused in our home; the arguments, missed work, my mother weeping because there wasn’t enough money to buy food and pay the bills. By the grace of God, I came through that experience with an aversion to alcohol and a desire to help people suffering from it. People can be delivered from this killer. This Christmas season let us remember that Jesus Christ came “to heal the broken-hearted and set the captive free.” He died and arose to give us forgiveness of sin and a sure hope for the future. By trusting in him we can enjoy a life with meaning and purpose. My advice to young people is to never touch this deadly poison. And to those already held in its grip, please get help before you become a statistic. God has something better for you.
Dan Miller, 2B Free Ministries