Kentucky Ethics League
Wednesday, June 19, 2024


There is mounting evidence that Americans are becoming heavy drinkers. The steady rise in liquor consumption with all, it's attendant tragedies indicates that the alcohol interests are more effective in promoting drinking than their adversaries are in discouraging it.

The use of beverage alcohol has been a moral issue throughout recorded history-dating back as far as Noah's drunkenness recorded in Genesis 9. The effects of intoxication have been experienced and deplored in every age.

Drinking has been a problem in this nation since the earliest American settlers arrived. The ship which brought Governor Winthrop to Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629 carried forty-two tons of beer as part of its cargo, and eight years later the first brewery in America was built there. Although the use of alcoholic beverages was widespread in the colonies, especially on festive occasions, some Christians strongly condemned drinking and particularly the trade of "fire water" to the Indians.

Since Colonial days, consumption of alcohol and serious problems related to it's consumption have dramatically increased in the life of the nation.

There are a few myths about alcohol that need to be removed.

Myth:"Alcohol isn't really a drug."
The fact is...Alcohol is one of the most used drugs in the U.S. There are many different customs and attitudes associated with drinking alcohol. A drug can be defined as any substance which alters normal brain function, so alcohol is definitely a drug. Alcohol related problems are one of four major public health problems in the U.S. along with coronary heart disease, injury and cancer.

Myth:"People can think more clearly after drinking alcohol."
The fact is...Being a depressant, alcohol actually slows the central nervous system. So thinking becomes less clear. Being more talkative and feeling more confident is likely the result of the drinkers inhibitions being depressed along with other bodily responses and functions.

Myth:"Alcohol affects all people in the same way and to the same extent."
The fact is...Alcohol affects all people differently. This is due to the interaction of factors associated with th drug itself (amount, strength, how quickly consumed), the person (health, personality, mood, body size, sex, and age), and the environment (being alone, with friends or family) where the alcohol is consumed.

Myth:"A male and female who are the same height and weight will be affected by alcohol in the same way."
The fact is...Women experience higher blood alcohol levels after drinking the same amount as men, even if they have the same body weight. Females tend to have more fatty tissue and less water in their bodies than males, which causes alcohol to be absorbed differently.

Myth:"Drinking coffee, vomiting or taking a cold shower will sober up someone who has consumed too much alcohol."
The fact is...The only thing that will sober a person up is time. About 90% of alcohol is broken down and eliminated through the liver. It takes an average healthy adult about one hour to eliminate one standard drink of alcohol. So drinking coffee, vomiting, exercising or taking a cold shower may make you feel better, but will not sober you up any quicker.

Myth:"Alcohol will make you more sociable."
The fact is...Alcohol does not make people more sociable. As a depressant, alcohol slows down the central nervous system and may therefore lead to people feeling less inhibited. However, alcohol actually impairs reflexes and judgements, which may affect the decision making process. People are more likely to become abusive, violent and irrational after drinking alcohol.

Myth:"It is safe to drink alcohol with perscription drugs."
The fact is...It is dangerous to combine alcohol with other drugs. The effect of some drugs such as antibiotics will be neutralised, while other drug and alcohol combinations may cause drowsiness and reduce the ability to do simple tasks, and in some cases may cause unconsciousness.

Myth:"People with alcohol problems are derelicts."
The fact is...Most people with alcohol related problems are part of mainstream society. They live with their families, have friends and hold a steady job. This often means that the problems are hidden and difficult to deal with.


The Economic Costs of Alcohol

In a recent study a research group estimated the overall costs of alcohol abuse at $148 billion for 1992, the most recent year for which adequate data were available at the time of the study was undertaken. Making adjustments for population growth and inflation, estimates forward to 1995, for which the overall estimated cost was $166.6 billion. A subsequent update further projected the estimates to 1998, for which the overall estimated cost was $184.6 billion. This 1998 estimate amounted to $683 for every man, woman, and child living in the U.S. in 1998.


As the title of Willaim Garmons book, The Many Faces of Ethyl suggests, beverage alcohol is a complex, not a simple issue. It is in fact many issues in one.

Christians may disagree in good faith about the best way to solve problems related to drinking. But all agree that whatever hurts God's creatures made in God's image must be of serious concern to Gods people.

From the pamphlet published by:
The Christian Life Commission of The Southern Baptist Convention
901 Commerce, #550
Nashville, TN 37203-3696