The End of the Road of Alcoholism
I’ve seen what the future can hold if I ever chose to start drinking again, and I don’t like it. Alcoholism leads to a life of pain, a life of regret, and an ending that most people would never knowingly choose. Every once in a while a person can slide by without reaping the negative side effects of alcohol abuse, but those cases are few and far between. The longer a person abuses alcohol, the more severely it will begin to abuse them. If you don’t pay attention it can melt your mind, destroy your organs and burn all of your bridges.
So if we all know how bad alcohol can be for us why do so many people hold onto it for so long? Well, many people gloss over the fact that it is extremely addictive. For some reason, this didn’t seem to be taught very much while I was growing up. I learned drugs were bad for you and that smoking was bad for you but very little was ever said about alcohol other than the importance of “drinking responsibly.” I tried to do this off and on for years but I just didn’t seem to have it in me to be content with just a drink or two. I used to think this was some sort of “moral failing” on my part until I began to understand that alcohol is actually just an addictive poison.
Alcohol is socially acceptable, in fact, it is so much so that people will often question why a person doesn’t drink instead of asking why they do. We all grow up seeing it in advertisements, movies, tv shows, magazines, restaurants, etc. It’s such a “normal” part of the “American lifestyle” that drinking it isn’t even really second-guessed.
Alcohol is profitable. The alcohol industry spends an average of $1-$2 billion on advertising each year. Alcohol sales in the United States reached $253.8 billion in 2018 and generated around $10 billion in tax revenue. On the other hand, the cost of alcohol abuse is steep in more ways than one. The Centers for Disease Control reports that excessive alcohol use is responsible for 88,000 deaths per year in the United States. Financially speaking the CDC reports that alcohol abuse costs the US $249 billion in 2010.
It’s all too easy to shrug things off that don’t directly affect us, but for me, this has become something that is deeply personal. Having experienced the nightmare of alcohol addiction first hand and seeing it take hold of people in my family these numbers are impossible for me to ignore. This has become an issue that I care about deeply and it has become my mission to try and help others find some shred of hope when it comes to fighting addiction. I have also found it to be necessary for me to speak out against something that has become normalized in our culture; the social acceptance of alcohol abuse. I do not hate alcoholics, but I do hate what alcohol abuse does to people.
So as I sit here and think about how alcoholism has destroyed my grandmother’s life, I am even more thankful for my sobriety. I didn’t know it at the time but I very easily could have suffered from the same fate. Alcohol did cost me a lot of things but I was one of the lucky ones who was able to make it out of its destructive cycle before it was too late. Because I know how much better life can be on the other side it is sad for me to see people who are still caught in this trap. It hurts, even more, to see when it is destroying someone you love. So while it pains me to say this while my grandma is slowly dying from the effects of her alcoholism and it hurts me to know how hard things must be for her now, I am reminded with a heavy heart why I should never drink again.