To Drink or Not to Drink
Dr. Charles Taylor, M.D., M.S., F.R.C.S.(C), is a neuro-surgeon at Calgary, Canada. This is the second part of two more informative articles from him. It would be well to spread, particularly among the young, the facts he deals with in these important papers. These papers are the substance of addresses delivered at Bethany Chapel, Calgary, Alberta.
Alcohol is a drug. In fact, it is a narcotic drug and the only one that can be legally and freely purchased on the open market. All other narcotics must be obtained from a doctor by prescription. In turn, a record is kept of every prescription signed by a physician in order that the R.C.M.P. at Ottawa can check to see just how much of these verious drugs he prescribes for his patients. If a doctor is prescribing too much of a narcotic for a particular patient, he soon hears from the R.C.M.P. They want to know ‘why’ and ‘what’ the circumstances are. If a doctor has a good reason, fine, but if he doesn’t, then he is in trouble for misuse of narcotics. This, then, is the kind of hold placed upon every narcotic substance — except alcohol.
Alcohol is a Depressant
For a number of reasons alcohol is a particularly insidious and deceptive substance. One is that it gives the user the impression that he has had a bit of a lift. He gets a feeling of well being, mastery of the situation, power and adequacy. This is why a persons who tends to feel inadequate, overburdened and overpowered by circumstances is prone to use alcoholin excess. He seeks to compensate with this narcotic drug because of the apparent lift it gives him, a feeling of superiority, grandeur, an on-top-of-the-world outlook, and a measure of release being the major effects enjoyed.
However, the moment alcohol is imbibed it goes for the nervous system. It has a particular affinity for the cells of the brain and immediately begins to exert a deleterious effect upon them, and contrary to what a person thinks and feels about himself, he is actually beginning to deteriorate in his performance. Alcohol has no stimulating effect. Rather, the opposite is true. For example, it depresses reaction times, that is, the length of time it takes a person to do something about a situation that requires action. After one pint of beer, which has one ounce of alcohol, an individual’s reaction time is prolonged six times. After two pints of beer, containing two ounces of alcohol, a person’s reaction time is prolonged eleven times. The meaning of this is clear. A man thinks he can manage his car after a couple of beers, but if he is driving down the street and a child steps out from between two parked cars in front of his, it takes eleven times longer than normal for him to put his foot on the brake and stop his car. The tragic result is that the child may lose his life.
Thus alcohol, while imparting a feeling of mastery over all circumstances, actually impairs a person’s judgment and ability to react quickly in an adverse situation.
Further Effects of Alcohol
Auto accidents. In New York City the New York State Department of Health in conjunction with Cornell University examined critically and carefully all fatal injuries due to car accidents in that area. It was found that alcohol was a factor in seventy-three per cent of all fatal accidents. A similar survey was conducted in Westchester County, New York. There it was discovered that alcohol was a factor in seventy-nine per cent of drivers killed in single car accidents (i.e., accidents not involving any other vehicle).
In the United States upwards of 50,000 people lose their lives in motor vehicle accidents every year. Let us suppose that in only half of them alcohol is a factor. This means that some 25,000 deaths are attributable to alcohol.
A study was carried out in Middlesex County, New Jersey. Over a twenty-seven year period a study was made of any and every kind of violent death in that particular area. It was later disclosed that alcohol was involved in 41.2 per cent of these deaths.
Suicide. The eleventh leading cause of violent deaths in the United States is suicide. Throughout the fifty states there is an annual total of 20,000 suicides, and this figure continues to rise as the years pass. The statistics show that “John Barleycorn” is directly responsible for one-fourth, or 5,000, of these suicides.
Addiction. Besides exerting a deleterious effect upon mental processes by depressing the activity of the brain cells, alcohol often has an effect that is called addiction, that is, a craving for more and more of it. This, of course, is something that some people have the strength of character to resist. Otherwise, every person who uses alcohol would become a chronic alcoholic. However, the cold hard facts of the situation are these, that one person out of every nine who commences the use of alcohol ends up a problem drinker or an out-and-out alcoholic. In the United States alone there are at least 5,000,000 alcoholics, and this number is being added to each year at the rate of 200,000.
Many of these people suffer from what is called “delirium tremens,” and a good description of this malady is found in Proverbs 23:29-35. Seeing strange things and imagining that ferocious animals are chasing them, these people are of necessity admitted to a hospital. In fact, ten per cent of the admissions to our mental hospitals are directly attributable to alcohol, while the mortality rate of delirium tremens in the best treatment centres available today is approximately four per cent. Also, it is estimated that six per cent of chronic alcoholics finally develop insanity in one form or another.
Broken homes. Alcohol is a potent factor in divorce, broken homes, and in poverty. Breadwinners, who should be supporting their wives and families, often spend all their earnings on strong drink once they have been “hooked” by the stuff.
Lost man hours. As a result of hangovers and other physical effects, lost man hours per year in the United States run into the billions of dollars.
Physical maladies. I have had people come into my office who tell me that they cannot raise their arms as high as their shoulders. What they have is peripheral neuritis due to alcohol. In addition to gastritis, which I have already mentioned, alcohol produces a form of hardening of the liver, this very frequently ending in a fatal hemorrhage.
The Chinese have a proverb, and it goes something like this, “Every journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step.” This is why conservative evangelical Christian communities have stood foursquare on total abstinence when it comes to alcohol. Total abstinence is the only way to be sure that you will not be the one in nine who will wind up at the degraded end of the spectrum of the people who imbibe “John Barleycorn.”
Because we can see social drinking creeping into the homes of Christians, especially among our young people, I feel it is only right to bring the cold hard facts of this situation to our attention. How can those of us whose very bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit of God subject them to an influence which from the very beginning is degrading, and which may in turn issue in spiritual shipwreck?
A Stumbling Block
There is one final consideration. The Apostle Paul speaks a great deal about stumbling the weaker brother. While you and I may be strong enough in character to “hold the stuff,” as the world says, let us not forget Paul’s concern for the weaker brother. There are people who because they see you take a drink may feel that they too can take a drink harmlessly. However, they may be among those who end up as alcohlics, and I simply do not see how you and I can escape the moral responsibility for what happens to such people because they saw you and me take a drink.
This is one more reason, then, that evangelical Christian communities across the world have stood solidly on total abstinence, and this is the course I recommend to you. After all, our Lord Jesus Christ gave us life, and life more abundant, and all else that we need in order to enjoy this life is found in Him. If we are enjoying His fellowship we don’t need these ancillary things. They are superfluous and if they are harmful then we, as Christians, should leave them alone.
Should anyone read these lines who is not a true Christian, I prayerfully hope that you will come to realize that genuine believers in Christ have the best of it; they have also the strength to resist these things. Above all, it is my earnest prayer that you will become a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and enjoy this more abundant life that He came to give us.