Photo Source: The Coffee House Wall
The amount of U.S. residents who drink alcohol in different varieties (mostly beer) has been on the increase. The amount they drink has also been on the increase. There is a new moderation movement to ease the stigma of the "alcoholic" label. The simple fact is that more people are drinking too much alcohol.
Alongside this trend is the legalization of marijuana across the U.S.. Pot dispensaries are big business waiting to bud and ignite. Our civic association has been presented with information by one California corporation already. They are eager to get through the Massachusetts bureaucratic quagmire (bribes gauntlet?) in order to cash in on the new cash crop. Their representatives were clean-cut young people. Articulate models of youthful health and exuberance. Not remotely like the scores of scruffy addicts who wander our streets and hang out down at city hospital near the methadone taproom.
What does all this inebriation say about the U.S., a most religious nation which waves moralistic fingers in every direction and sells huge amounts of weaponry for profits?
Well, for one thing, it says there is a lot of need for emotional dulling in our society. It also says that young people need to get smashed in many cases to socialize and/or have sex. It also says that advertising of alcohol absolutely everywhere works. TV, movies and billboards are awash in booze print.
The nurse in me is concerned when I hear statistics pointing to more alcohol use and abuse. The decades of my nursing practice were infused with heavy concentrations of drug and alcohol abusers. Drinkers who burn out their bodies get very sick. This can happen at 30 or 60, depending on the amount of pickling. When it does happen, the damage to kidneys, liver, pancreas and/or brain is often irreversible. More permanent than the effects of smoking in many cases.
As a person who likes to see people grow to their full potential as human beings, I consider alcohol an impediment to growing up and growing wise. The fog of alcohol use, which I have experienced, is only evident well after leaving drinking behind. I drank from my late teens to my late thirties. While I was not a daily drinker or a heavy drinker for most of that period, I can say drinking alcohol interfered with my ability to grow into and excel at those things I wished to pursue. The clarity of mind and sharpness of physical reflex which I experienced in my 40s after leaving alcohol behind were stunning to me. Rather than feeling that middle age was a downer, I felt more energetic and creatively motivated than ever.
I speculate the rise in intoxicant use reflects more than the materialistic hollowness of Western culture. I think it is an expression of the animal stress experienced by a species which has overpopulated and almost ruined its ecology completely. I believe our animal instincts are aware of the tenuous nature of our current existence, despite all the hyping rationalization in media about the pending salvation by technology.
Some people react to this stress consciously. They become environmental activists in a big or small way. They turn to healthier foods. They are aware of the increasing shortage of pure water. They look to alternate energy sources, recycling and conservation. These are time-consuming practices which require focus and energy above and beyond simply making a living in an increasingly competitive world. Heavy drinking and drugging are inconsistent with these choices.
The vast majority of human beings do nothing in the face of the harsh realities of our species in the 21st century. At least half of human pregnancies are still 'accidents'. Urban settings are increasingly crowded with large polluting vehicles. Construction and architecture have not veered much from traditional methods, considering the environmental realities. Water infrastructure and sewage infrastructure are obsolete in developed countries and absent in the rest.
Drinking and drugging not only mask the animal brain's acknowledgment of impending doom. These behaviors almost certainly hasten that doom by draining the human energy, natural resources and sharp consciousness needed to find and implement solutions on a massive scale. This is no rant on some moralistic soapbox. This is a clear observation of the state of human reality and its relation to alcohol.