Alcoholism ruins lives and families, but many people don’t take it seriously.
Coming from Russia, I have seen the effects alcohol can have on a nation and its inhabitants. I don't even want to touch alcohol with all that I know and have seen, but that doesn’t matter to Americans. They don’t think it is a big issue; a lot of them think getting drunk is funny, and that alcoholism isn’t a huge issue in the U.S. They are wrong.
One of the biggest reasons for this is that people don’t talk about it enough. Several people that I interviewed didn’t have much experience or knowledge of alcoholics and dealing with them. One of them pointed out the reason. “I think they would try and push [alcoholism] down and ignore it, but it would probably keep coming back and causing more problems and things,” high school senior Katlyn Crawford said.
While keeping the problems quiet may seem like the safe and comfortable thing to do, it really just makes the problem worse in the long run.
The more directly people can hear about the alcohol addiction, the more real and impactful it will be for them.
I can talk about all the drunks I have seen in Russia, fishing in dumpsters for a last drink from someone’s thrown away bottle, but people won’t care much. They’ll think “Wow, Russia does have a drinking problem, I wish I could do something to help,” but they won’t realize that similar problems exist right where they live in the U.S.
Americans may think of Russia’s problems as far removed from their own, but the root of the Russian is also something Americans struggle with. World Magazine reporter Jessica Golloher said that some of the factors are “the lack of adequate social services, employment opportunities and depression.”
Especially in the midst and aftermath of a global pandemic, life is not the most stable, and people all over the world are more likely to turn to vices as a sort of escape from a world that seems to be falling apart.
Maybe Americans don’t want to admit that they struggle with similar problems, and that is why they laud Russia’s drinking. Whatever the case, alcoholism is not a small problem in the U.S.
NPR reporter Camila Domonoske said that general levels of drinking have gone up in the U.S. The data from 1992 to 2013 shows a significant increase 2002-2013 in dangerous alcohol habits in the U.S., and it shows that some groups are more affected than others.
“Problems with alcohol increased by nearly 50%,” Domonoske said. “Among women, alcohol abuse and dependence increased by 83.7%. Among (B)lack people, it increased by 92.8 percent. Among the poor (earning less than $20,000) it rose by 65.9%.”
It may seem like this is more “ promoting gender equality” or something, but it is pretty terrible no matter what it is. I don’t care if people think drinking excessive amounts of alcohol makes them stronger; it is disgusting.
Some may be unaware of the silent menace in our country, but others have close relations with people struggling with alcohol abuse and can attest to its destructiveness.
“One of my cousins got arrested for drinking and driving,” said sophomore Jack Pinkston. “And then the other one actually lost his job because he wasn’t able to show up on time."
This is just one example of alcoholism hurting people’s lives. It was fortunate that these instances reflected most of the pain back on them, unlike some who have killed people driving drunk or doing other stupid things.
The question, then, is how do we get it on more people’s radar? This is important to raise awareness and prevent it from growing.
Children’s formative years are very important for warning them about the dangers of alcoholism. I know that when I was growing up is probably when I saw a lot of the results of alcoholism that have affected my feelings about the topic now.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration says that “lots of little talks are more effective than one ‘big talk.’” Having multiple talks on the subject will keep it from being a one-and-done talk. It will also help build the relationship between child and parent which is one of the best ways to keep kids from drinking as they grow up.
Outside of the home, though, it is difficult to educate people on the dangers of alcoholism. From my experience, kids in school just laugh a lot of the stuff off when it is explained to them, just like many of the drug talks.
I don’t really have any great ideas; maybe leaders of clubs or any figures kids would trust at a young age, would be able to help them realize the threat if their parents will not.
In this case, if there is anything that can be done, those in better positions should try to help the kids and families into better situations. When people are poor and depressed, they are far more likely to ruin themselves with alcoholism than if they are happy and running a business.
So productivity is the answer? Not quite. Even productive people can be depressed, they need hope.
Really, Jesus is the answer. Helping people into better fiscal situations is good, but people need the hope and promise that is found in knowing the true God and what He can do.
Not that evangelizing alcoholics is as easy as I am making it sound, but hope is a good cure for depression, I think.
God is the one who will eventually rid the world of all sin, but for now, we need to do our best in doing his work in spreading his love.