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FIRST-PERSON: Alcohol: the rest of the story

DURHAM, N.C. (BP)–Reluctantly, but finally, most Americans admit today that the consumption of alcoholic beverages contributes to a major portion of the national drug problem. The legality of the substance certainly does not remove the potential for a negative impact on one’s lifestyle, even eventual death.

Despite this needed acknowledgement and the timid efforts by the government to equate safety with the age of the drinker, a never-ending supply of eager customers continues to fill the coffers of the alcohol industry. Clever, often humorous, and usually quite effective advertisements keep viewers, readers and listeners glued to their messages of respectability and promises of good times.

In this age of social drinkers who dismiss growing habits with, “I can take it or leave it,” or “Everybody does it,” little attention is given to the eventual costs. Our “feel good” society prefers to postpone indefinitely any serious consideration of possible consequences. Few dare to ask, “Is it worth the price I or others may have to pay?”

But, sadly, many imbibers and those affected by their unhappy deeds have already discovered the perils of this dangerous and risky gambling game.

Eddie had a keen distaste for rules, particularly when he had a few drinks under his belt. He could find more trouble accidentally than most who sought it. After his release from prison the last time, he settled down and took special pride in his young children. Those who truly knew him saw him as a man with a good heart. But the more he drank, the more depressed he became. For him, inner peace seemed so elusive, even though he had accepted Christ as his Savior while in prison. One night he headed home from a neighbor’s house, a six-pack in his hand. Later that night a train rounded the bend and ploughed into the helpless Eddie on the tracks.

Quinton struggled with his alcohol problem, losing his family, his business and his self-respect. Although he would quit for a while, he would fall again. He was fortunate to have a caring brother who picked him up and dusted him off time and time again. Eventually he gave up the bottle, and took special pride in every chip he received from Alcoholics Anonymous. His trust in the Lord was renewed. But his memories of misspent years tugged at his lonely soul, and the good man took his life.

Thurman was a good worker when sober, but alcohol dogged his steps for so many years. His drunken driving often got him into trouble with the law. For his family, life was often hell on earth. The poisonous substance almost destroyed his body and mind, but one day he woke up and shucked the bottle when a doctor told him death was certain unless he abandoned his habit. He remained sober the rest of his days, but his son Ricky began to walk the same road of disaster, following his father’s earlier example. Despite eventual marital difficulties, Ricky’s love for his two sons kept him going. His concerned parents encouraged him, but his lifestyle was on a downhill spiral. Bar fights, driving and drinking, and binges became common fare. After going to a Christian rehab center, Ricky appeared to be on the road to recovery. He wanted the better life and attended church regularly. But every time the personable young man straightened out his tangled life for a while, the next fall waited just around the corner. The dark world to which he entrusted his future finally became his downfall. An unknown assailant murdered Ricky in a motel room.

The price of alcohol consumption was too high for Eddie, Quinton, Thurman and countless others — and their families, friends and co-workers.

But don’t expect the advocates of alcoholic beverages to share with the public such painful, dark stories. Do not expect from them the whole story, for they will hide the rest of the sad tale as long as humanly possible. They will continue to paint beautiful pictures and tell humorous stories. The truth would surely be the downfall of their precious industry of misery.
Stone and Barber, of Durham, N.C., are coauthors of two books on alcohol and drug abuse, “The Drug Tragedy – Hope for the One Who Hurts” and “The Drug Tragedy – Hope for the One Who Cares,” both available from LifeWay Christian Stores.

    About the Author

  • Ted G. Stone & Philip D. Barber