The Scourge of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse

I’m often reminded the terrible price my family has paid because of alcoholism and substance abuse. It’s the primary reason I’ve never been one to drink or to “get high.” As mentioned in these pages* before, I tried marijuana as a teenager. Just like president Bill Clinton, “I didn’t like it, and didn’t inhale, and never tried it again.” While there were few who did, I believed Bill Clinton. Believe me.

When it comes to alcohol, I admit it… I tried that once as well. I was 19- years old and a new Airman at Vandenberg Air Force Base. I’m not sure why, but I think it was to just see what it would feel like. So — young and stupid — one evening I drank a tall glass of Bacardi Rum. Beyond the silliness and fog of that night, I paid the awful and memorable price the next morning. I learned what it felt like.

I’m happy to say I never drank or used again. Once experienced I never saw the need to. To me, there is zero attraction to drink or to use drugs, even in moderation. I’m able to get high on life without dulling my senses and resorting to the mind-numbing use of artificial means. My high is as good as anyone’s. Go ahead world, call me “crazy”!

Since those poor, but thankfully isolated choices, I’ve often been asked why I don’t drink or do pot… and my answer has always been the same: I grew up seeing how alcohol destroyed the lives of my loved ones and how it affected the lives of their families. An uncle, torn by the ravages of his combat experience during World War II, turned to alcohol and it ruined his life. Other uncles and aunts were also alcoholics and passed it on. Two of my cousins were killed in auto accidents because of drunk driving. Another was killed in his efforts to distribute. Other family members have spent time in jail, and in prison because of their addictions. Others have been in and out of rehab. Wasted years, worse yet… wasted lives. There is never total recovery. Once addicted, it is always with you.

My family’s story is just one among the millions of others whose lives have been touched by what some consider accepted behavior. It is not. It angers me to see how casual people are about the use of alcohol and “recreational” drugs. Now communities and states are legalizing the use of marijuana. Not because it’s the right thing to do, but they see it as a cash cow. A bandaid for previous mistakes of overspending and over-indulgence. Not even our government can escape the nonsense!

The price society pays is ENORMOUS and devastating to millions of families and individuals who are its innocent victims. Some of the most gifted, celebrated artists and entertainers of our times have lost their lives to the lure of alcohol and other abuses. The list is endless and none of us truly escape its far-reaching consequences.

Alcohol it seems is universal. It’s part of our culture, required in ritual celebrations, it’s being social, it’s part of the gathering and it’s always been here. It’s used by everybody, reputed by nobody.

It makes strong men weak and leads the weak to believe themselves strong. A husband’s fondness for drink will often overcome his love for his wife… his family… and even for his God. Jobs are lost, wages wasted, life savings swallowed up and productive lives destroyed. Wives and children are victimized, beaten, abused, deprived and abandoned.

The damage extends to communities and society. Crimes, corruption, even murders are committed and horrible deaths are suffered on our nations roads and highways. Terribly wasted lives, lives cut short, families destroyed, unintended consequences at a huge immeasurable cost in lives, dollars, misery and the human spirit… all because of alcohol.

~~ Adapted from the Ken Burns documentary Prohibition

A friend recently described his use of alcohol as “escapism”.  To me that’s just another tired, old excuse. What are people really escaping from? Nothing! There is no avoiding the realities of the world. “Masking” may be a better word, and it’s only temporary. Those seeking to “escape” in the end, or at the very time they’re hoping for relief, will only find disappointment. Often they’ll find they’ve only made their lives, and the lives of those they love, worse. Alcohol and other substance addictions are a scourge on mankind.

Yes, I get high on life. While we all face challenges (and I’ve had my share), things we’d rather ignore than confront, there are always things to be thankful for. Life itself among them. One needs only to visit a cemetery and read the headstone inscriptions to realize just how very lucky we are.

I am forever grateful I escaped those addictions. For whatever reasons, I guess I was lucky. I can only thank the friends I chose, my faith in God, and the knowledge things could always be worse.

We take far too much for granted. We’re often like sheep, never questioning the standards others of our society have established. We just go-along. The notion that alcohol abuse is normal, or an acceptable escape from stress and hardship is a sad commentary indeed on our values, how we think, and who we are.

 * See #s14 & 15 at this blog.

Advertisements

War is not the answer?

While driving across the I-90 floating bridge into Seattle a few days ago I couldn’t help but notice a sticker on the rear window of a Prius. You’ve probably seen one yourself. “War is not the answer” it read.

Sorry, I beg to differ!

We live in times when barely a week goes by without reading, seeing or at least hearing of yet another terrorist attack somewhere in the world. The most recent was Thursday’s vicious assault by an Islamist terrorist group on innocent, unarmed university students in Kenya, Africa. The massacre took the lives of 148 students.
image

Our government and our naïve citizenry, just like the one in the Prius, need to wake up! What’s it going to take? Must we bear a similar attack, or even worse, here in the United States to wake these types up to the stark reality? This is war, like it or not! A war centered on the fanatical religious beliefs of the insane. These are tyrants whose desire is to advance the cause of Islam, no matter the cost or the method.

The length of time, as well as the price we’ll have to pay to defend ourselves against this enemy, will be long and costly. It already has been. It’s a struggle that could be without end and with no victors. Certainly nothing can be accomplished in ridding the world — if even possible — of these sick madmen without our united resolve.

We must be fierce, relentless and bold. We must take actions meant not for the faint-of-heart. And finally, we must take this war to the enemy. Our only defense against these sick, degenerate maniacs is offensive. We simply have to take the battle to them and engage them without restraint. It’s either them or us.

I choose us!

Many good people promote peace by opposing war.  They advocate laws or treaties to abolish war, to require disarmament, or to reduce armed forces. Those methods may reduce the likelihood or the costs of war.  But opposition to war cannot ensure peace, because peace is more than the absence of war. ~~ Dallin H. Oaks

Not Enough Words

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness …” ~~ Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Three of my sons and I were together a couple of times this past week. It’s been a long time. The oldest lives in São Paulo Brazil, while another is in Los Angeles, and my youngest in Provo, Utah. All are leading busy lives. Going to school, working jobs, building empires.

During my last visit with just my son Matt, before he returned to São Paulo on Saturday, we talked about how people believe we live in the worse of times. Blame it on the media we agreed. With modern technology, news stories, photos and videos from any part of the world comes to us in an instant and on devices we carry in our pockets.

It’s not like it was when I was growing up. In those days, there was but a single daily newscast from the television networks, then just ABC, CBS or NBC. Local broadcast news was just as sparse and none of them more than half-an-hour. Radio was a bit more in-depth, but there were no pictures! That was it for broadcasting, no smartphones, no alerts, no nothing! Add the daily newspapers, where it was believed the most informed would get their fill of current events. The Washington Post, The Evening Star were thick dailies and hugely powerful companies. That was then, this is now.

What we knew about the world was limited and not very timely.  The world seemed a much larger place and we were insulated from its harsh realities, while now we have become desensitized to the same. No one could have imagined what lay ahead. Certainly our grandparents lived in simpler times, but in reality we aren’t living in the worse of them. However, with the dissemination of what goes on around, us so readily available and graphic, we often think otherwise.

Continue reading

American Exceptionalism: Is This a Great Country or What?

Objects of the most stupendous magnitude, and measure in which the lives and liberties of millions yet unborn are intimately interested, are now before us. We are in the very midst of a revolution the most complete, unexpected and remarkable of any in the history of nations. ~~ John Adams letter to William Cushing, June 9, 1776

I try to avoid writing about the political but from time to time it happens. Like most people I want to be liked. I want my words to bring smiles and pleasure. I want my stories bookmarked, remembered and my opinions respected. But I make no apologies about my occasional writings of the political kind. I just can’t help myself. Bad enough to hear it from outsiders but I get irked from time to time when I hear our own citizens tearing down our country. A lot has been said and written about American Exceptionalism, so time for me to write a little about it from my perspective, as well as an historical one. Continue reading

Politicians – The Critic Doesn’t Count

I have no ambition to govern men.  It is a painful and thankless office. ~~ Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, December 28, 1796

Being a politician is tough.  No doubt about it.  It’s a thankless job steeped in cynicism, distrust, even vile hatred and personal attacks from the very people they’re trying to represent.  I have little regard for cynics, never have, never will!

The politician’s job requires them to be ever visible, and accountable to not only a belligerent and fickle constituency, but to a hostile and often biased press.  That makes a politician a very easy target.  I can’t imagine being one.  It’s far too high a price to pay to be under such constant scrutiny, on an unlevel playing field and unable to please everyone.  The majority of us would never allow such close inspection.  Frankly, most of us couldn’t stand the heat.  Better it is to complain, point the finger.  Nevertheless the question should be asked;  If not us, then who? Continue reading

What Would the Fathers Say?

Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only Law Book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited….What a paradise would this region be!
~~ John Adams, 1756 ~~

The Founding FathersWe call it “modern times.”  We’re up-to-date, we’re high tech.  At the cutting edge, the leading edge, smarter and brighter than ever before.  We’re enlightened!  We have the Internet, and much of the world’s knowledge right here at our fingertips. In so many ways, we are a truly blessed nation.

Some say they don’t care what the older generation thinks.  After all, what do they know?  Others quote the Founding Fathers to validate a point, usually political, while at the same time ignoring the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe those same founders wrote and spoke so much about. Continue reading

Ethics in Journalism is Dead!

There is nothing to fear except the persistent refusal to find out the truth. ~~ Dorothy Thompson

Ethics in Journalism is dead my friend. You hadn’t heard?  Tragically and sadly it’s so.  There was no announcement, no obituary, no funeral, no day of mourning, no closure.  It just happened.  Ethics you see is gone, you can be sure of that.

The Fourth Estate once stood for something.  It used to be an honored profession, a free-agent, independent of outside influence.  At one time a watchdog and guardian over governments and politicians gone astray. It’s now just the opposite.  That once great institution stands now as a facilitator, a protector, an enabler.  Journalism’s hatchet men have become manipulators and endorsers of the worse that government, and the governed, has to offer.  All at the cost of ethics.  What was once revered should now be feared.  Journalists have become no less than secondary parties to a crime.  You and I, our posterity, and our country have become — many of us — its unwitting victims. Continue reading