Ichabod's Kin
A place for politics, pop culture, and social issues

Your Drug of Choice?

What was true before is so now, that the toll from alcohol abuse (not just addiction) is more costly to society, humanly and economically, than all other drugs in the top ten put together.

Ignorance of certain drugs will endure till pigs fly, thanks to the yakkety-yak and panic induced by politicians and law enforcement. Voters in Massachusets spoke by a huge margin to decriminalize marijuana months ago. Whether there is ultimate wisdom in this public decision, the nonsense of resistance itself is clear.

Would there were as much outrage against horrific prison terms for maryjane as there is towards AIG. We forget the good ol’ days of Prohibition when the kids who frequented speakeasys and ultimately forced Repeal were our grand- and great-grandparents who broke every law on the books to nail down forever their right to the most dangerous drug of all: alcohol. How cool was that? At least, in a more recent Year of Our Lord, decriminalization of weed was forged civilly and democratically.

Allow me to rest my burden for modern times and place the brouhaha in perspective. Thirty-five ago I was on a public rant about the indecent tendency at that time to refer to “alcohol and drugs” in hopes of getting the word “other” planted firmly between “and” and “drugs.” It didn’t occur to Americans that alcohol is a drug, and the news was not taken gently, let alone tolerated.

From doctors’ offices and treatment centers all over the U.S. was heard a common parental sigh of relief when told their kids were addicted to booze instead of MJ or hash: “Oh, thank God, s/he isn’t a druggie!” Wrong. What was true then continues to be so now, that the toll from alcohol abuse (not just addiction) is more costly to society, humanly and economically, than all other drugs in the top ten put together. Alcoholics outnumber other addicts up to 10-1 (1000%) . Oh, let not stop there, or you may get the wrong idea: deaths from good stiff drinks, at times, have outnumbered other overdose 33-1 (3300%). Sorry to ruin your Happy Hour.

This is even to include things ingested that are prescriptive; we are, after all, a drug culture. But such words go in one ear and out the other. Yet how short a time ago were we used to the macho image of the hard-drinking writer or journalist–check out ‘80s books like Dardis’ The Thirsty Muse and Goodwin’s Alcohol and the Writer–with keen insight into many of our faves: Hemingway, O’Neill, Steinbeck, Faulkner and loads of others (don’t forget ol’ F. Scott) whom we imagined wouldn’t have written worth a damn were their quills not dipped in a bottle of Wild Turkey. Of course, the guy who stirred up hard-drinking Good Old Boys with his song, “Oakie from Muskogie” was a user himself (both alcohol and marijuana) and, when asked from whence came his music inspiration, quoth, “Two friends of mine–Mr. Jim Beam and Mr. I.W. Harper.” Cute. His legacy is another nail in the coffin wherein lie impressionable lovers of traditional values and country music.

Unhappily, in this space, I must mince my words, to wit: at least 1 in 20 alcoholics are pre-teen; alcohol damages every gland and organ in the body; alcohol is continually advertised or abused on TV (counting the young guy who’s just gotta have a beer–and the gal who’ll do anything to make sure he gets it by dunking her pretty little head in an ice-cold tub and coming up with a brewski in her teeth); almost half of hospital admissions is alcohol-related, as are traffic fatalities; a fifth of divorces are caused by it, it’s a major contributor to up to a third of suicides in some states, and two-thirds of murder are committed under the influence. Should I mention what it’s doing to instances of child abuse, I risk depressing you to the max.

To get some grasp of the enormity of the alcohol problem–given we are so in denial of its impact vis a vis other drugs, and that Prohibition didn’t work: in the name of a better America, and to save our children, let’s all pledge to cut out drinking, say, just for Lent. If this is impossible for you, you’re part of the problem. If so, will you pledge to stop condemning marijuana and “hard drug” users as the criminals of the overall “drug problem”?

I’ve made this request in times past, and to this day I bless the one person who took the pledge.

Whether she kept it or not is known only to God.

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