The  Positive Benefits From Prohibiton

Statistics can be deceptive at times, depending on how they are collected and interpreted. When considering the effects of the 18th Amendment of the Constitution, which dealt with Prohibition of alcoholic beverages, all kinds of conclusions have been promoted from statistical analysis, not only during the ban on alcohol production and consumption, but before and afterwards. Typically, only the negative effects are written about Prohibition. Some of these have to do with the rise of organized crime selling illegal alcoholic beverages from "speakeasies," secretive clubs that tried to hide from law enforcement agencies. It should also be noted that generalizations are not necessarily consistent from city to city, or one geographical area to the next, regarding the pros and cons of Prohibition.

This is not to say that everything associated with Prohibition was negative. It is noted, even by sources such as Wikipedia, that during the time it was in force, it was successful in reducing the amount of liquor consumed. Are there benefits from consuming less liquor? Yes. Obviously, with less alcohol consumed, drunkenness decreased. With less people drunk, some of the problems it brings decreased as well. There are accounts of less assault, vagrancy, disorderly conduct, more consistent work habits, less spousal abuse, and less demands for services at welfare missions during the Prohibition era.

In our environment today, with the availability and acceptability of alcohol consumption, are there concerns about its use and abuse? Of course. The World Health Organization's (WHO) World Cancer Report 2014 warns that alcohol consumption, the second biggest risk factor in developing cancer, is related to hundreds of thousands of cancer deaths globally, including stomach, liver and breast cancer. Adding to mounting evidence that driving with a blood alcohol level (BAC) under .08 is unsafe, a new study of over 570,000 fatal collisions from researchers at the University of California, San Diego, found that drivers with a BAC of .01 to .07 are 46% more likely than sober drivers to be held solely responsible for collisions. The conclusion is there is no safe combination of drinking and driving. Alcohol is also estimated to cause 20-30% of homicides, epileptic events, and motor vehicle accidents. Heavy drinking also reduces the production of brain cells in the hippocampus, the area that provides the self-control necessary to stop drinking. In 2002, U.S. alcoholism statistics reported that 2.6 million binge drinkers were between the ages of 12 and 17. Fifty six percent of students in grades 5 through 12 say that alcohol advertising encourages them to drink. There should be concern for alcohol's use and abuse.

Positively, treatment for alcoholism has been shown to reduce criminal activity up to 80% among chronic offenders, has increased their rate of employment, decreases homelessness, and reduces all health care costs. These statistics are, interestingly enough, consistent with those related to the positive benefits from reduced alcohol consumption that occurred during Prohibition. There are those who, wanting to affirm the lack of anything good coming from Prohibition, ignore the problems with alcoholism today. Scripture is correct when it affirms, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler; and whosoever erreth thereby is not wise" (Proverbs 20:1). May we discern what fruit such it bears, and seek the better path for ourselves and those we care about.

Robert Johnson, Longview, TX