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Article 0109 - Warning Youth About Alcoholism

Warning Youth About Alcoholism

Jon Gary Williams

How much of an impression do we leave on our young people when warning about the dangers of alcohol? Are we telling them what they really need to know? Do we give them sufficient reason to abhor the use of alcohol? If not, we are not doing our job.

At no time in the history of the world has there been a greater need to educate youth about this thief of the soul. Before they find themselves being tempted to drink, they need to be impressed with the terrible consequences of what could develop in their lives.

But, the question is this - are we ourselves prepared to tell them what they really need to know? Consider the following.

The Problem

The use of alcohol, and the resulting complications of alcoholism, is one of our nation's greatest social problems. Literally hundreds of thousands of homes have been ruined because of this problem. Broken lives by the millions lie in the wake of this tool of Satan. Suicides due to problem drinking are ever increasing. More than 100,000 U.S. deaths are caused by excessive alcohol consumption each year. Direct and indirect causes of death include drunk driving, cirrhosis of the liver, falls, cancer, and stroke. Each year more than thirty thousand lives are lost on the highways because of drunk drivers.

It is impossible to say exactly how many United States citizens suffer from an alcohol-use disorder, but the best sources estimate the number to be at least 30 million, and of that number it is estimated that 17 million are alcoholic. This means that about one out of every twenty adult Americans is alcoholic. And to make matters worse the number of young people who drink alcohol regularly continues to rise. Among growing numbers of high school youth, drinking alcohol is the popular thing, and this trend is evermore reaching into the junior high level. And the sad thing about this is that these young people don't know where they may be heading---to a life of alcoholism!

The Facts

We must tell our young people the facts about alcoholism. We must make this so clear that they cannot misunderstand! We must leave an indelible impression on their minds! Often, however, we only touch the surface and fail to get at the heart of the matter. We tell them it is sin - but they already know this. We quote Biblical warnings against drunkenness - but they have already heard them.

In addition to emphasizing the lack of spirituality in drinking alcohol, we should give these youngsters some hard facts they can relate to. Let's impress on their minds some things they won't forget. Well, what are these hard facts?

First - no one knows if he or she will become alcoholic

Obviously, no one ever set out to be an alcoholic. A brother who works with alcoholic rehabilitation programs once asked a group of teenagers, "What do you plan to be?" They responded with different answers: teacher, policeman, preacher, doctor, and so on. He then asked, "How many of you plan to be an alcoholic?" The room was silent.

The fact is no one plans to be alcoholic. Well, if no one wants to be addicted to alcohol, why are their millions of alcoholics? Furthermore, can anyone know if he or she will become an alcoholic? No. The fact is, there are no tests that can determine if one will become alcoholic, and there are no signs which indicate this. The only way to find out - is to engage in the practice of drinking and continue doing so! There is no other way. Those who study the problem of alcohol addiction tell us that as many as one out of every seven people who begin drinking and continue doing so, on even a somewhat regular basis, will become alcoholic.

Imagine a well of water so contaminated with poison that one out of every seven people who drink from it will be infected with an incurable disease. Such a well would be avoided like the plague. Alcohol is such a "well."

Anyone who believes they can drink alcohol socially, as long as they do not drink to "excess," is playing a dangerous game. There is only way to be completely safe from alcoholism -- never begin drinking.

Second - it usually takes several years to become alcoholic

This shows the subtle influence of alcohol. It may take as many as ten to fifteen years to become alcoholic, so, people may be in their early to mid thirties before realizing they are addicted. During their twenties people who drink might think, "Well, I can take it or leave it." And they probably can. But then, they finally reach the "point of no return"---at which they can't leave it. Simply because people detect no apparent alcohol-use disorder, is no indication they are not becoming addicted. Indeed, the bottle is subtle!

During recent decades it has been observed that as the age for beginning drinkers has lowered, the average age of becoming alcoholic has also lowered. More people are discovering they are addicted to alcohol as early as their mid to late twenties.

Third - there is no cure for alcoholism

Is this true? Yes it is. There is no cure! Once people become an alcoholic they will die alcoholic. This fact ought to frighten anyone.

Now, this is not to say that such people are beyond hope. They can find help, but they can never take another drink, not even a social drink. The best they can hope for is to become what Alcoholics Anonymous refers to as a non-drinking alcoholic. They must live their lives one day at a time. If they succeed in resisting the temptation to drink one day, they are successful that day---but tomorrow is another day. This is no way to live. And young people need to know this. They need to be taught about this. There is no cure for alcoholism.

Fourth - very few succeed in becoming non-drinking alcoholics

For every person who becomes a non-drinking alcoholic, there are thousands upon thousands who fail to acknowledge their problem and will not seek recovery. And of those who do identify their problem and want to do something about it, the chance they will continue in a recovery program is extremely slim.

These are the facts. We need to get them before our young people, and in such a way that they will not forget them. Maybe, just maybe, we will save some of these precious young souls from ruin.

Remember these facts: First, no one can know if they can become addicted to alcohol. Second, becoming alcoholic is a slow process, usually taking several years. Third, there is no cure for this problem. All alcoholics will die alcoholics. Fourth, very few who reach the "point of no return" will be successful in becoming "non-drinking" alcoholics.