Drinking Alcohol: Facts are Dangerous?

Although the reader whose letter is presented below achieved success in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), only about five percent (5%) of its members do so after a year of attendance. Fortunately, there are effective alternatives.

Dear Dr. Hanson,

I've read some of your website and appreciate your attention to detail, but while trying to show the truth, you've created serious problems. Though I know nothing about you I assume you have absolutely no experience with alcoholism, or perhaps haven't even read any NA/AA literature.

For a non-problem drinker, your take on alcohol makes sense, but to an alcoholic, it's a message that's very dangerous.

I'm an alcoholic and can tell you that alcohol destroys judgment, causes serious physical damage and is a seductive poison.

Imagine living your whole life as a nightmare. Broken home, child abuse, homelessness, major depression, trauma, generally feeling hopeless from a very early age, and seeing others happy and wondering how it's possible. Then you become addicted to alcohol.

Eventually the same thing that once made you feel good is killing you, destroying your life inside out and the lives of your loved ones, and your life is worse than it was before you picked up that drink. You see this but now you can't seem to stop, no matter how hard you try.

Coming from where I did, I can't afford to forget that something as seemingly harmless as a drink could mean death, or even worse, a life without hope or joy, a living hell. What it took to get me here was an absolute defeat and humiliation; the loss of everything I cared about, and the loss of myself, completely.

Being an intelligent person, maybe you could come to the same conclusions I have, without needing to learn the hard way. I wouldn't wish my life on my greatest enemy. It was a literal hell, and that is why I DO NOT see alcohol as any less than a lethal drug. It is cunning, baffling, powerfull. It is subtle. It waits patiently. It is not class specific. Anyone of any race of any creed, homeless or billionare, PHD or highschool drop out, can become an alcoholic, and the ends are always the same for us. They are not pretty.

I don't expect you to have read any of this. I only hope that one day someone reads something I wrote and is affected by it. Maybe even moved. There's nothing worse than feeling separated and misunderstood by/from your fellow man.

-J

Dear J,

Thank you for your very thoughtful letter and its heartfelt expression of concern about alcohol messages.

There are many societies in which virtually everyone drinks alcohol daily with very few alcohol-related problems. One of the characteristics of such societies is that they view alcohol not as a magic substance that will transform lives into bliss nor as a dangerous poison that seduces people into lives of hell. Instead, they see it as a substance that can either enhance life or create serious problems depending on how it's used.

Alcohol can be compared to a rifle. Rifles can provide pleasure and recreation to hunters, can provide an enjoyable sport for marksmen, can provide food, can protect us from those who wish to harm us, and so on. However, they can also be used to intimidate people, commit crimes, kill innocent people, and more.

Research indicates that the moderate consumption of alcohol saves more lives than its abuse costs. Moderate alcohol consumption can provide many benefits but its abuse can cause many harms.

Therefore, I promote alcohol harm reduction. This involves such things as effective alcohol education, the use of DWI courts for those who are addicted, ignition interlock systems to prevent operating vehicles while impaired, programs that help heavy drinkers reduce their quantity and frequency of drinking, programs to help those who seek abstinence and sobriety to achieve that goal, and many other measures to protect people.

We need to promote a society in which alcohol provides the maximum benefits and causes the least harm possible.

Best wishes for your continuing sobriety,

David Hanson

Note: This website is informational only and makes no suggestions or recommendations about alcohol or drinking and none should be inferred.

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