Community Columns

Why anyone would want to get drunk is beyond me

So, which celebrity will be next to get into trouble with the law because of public intoxication? It's anybody's guess. Even if you strive diligently to avoid celebrity news, it has been difficult to hide from the recent uproars caused by Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

Fortunately, we are unlikely to come across drunken Hollywood stars here in the valley. We are not, however, immune to the presence of alcohol.

Alcohol is everywhere, from the finest restaurants to the humblest tribal huts. Alcoholic beverages are a large part of almost every culture in the world. They have been used for social and religious rituals, as well as medicine, recreation and even nutrition. Today alcohol often is used as an escape from the pressures of life. Regrettably, it can serve that purpose all too well; it can orchestrate one's permanent departure from life.

Even the earliest stages of intoxication can be life-threatening. The combination of a short attention span, a false sense of self-confidence, inhibited fine motor skills and weakened judgment can produce disastrous results. At higher blood-alcohol levels, the danger is heightened by confusion, slowed reaction times, poor gross motor skills, blurred vision and drowsiness. The symptoms worsen with more alcohol. The immediate effects can be automobile accidents, falls, drowning, burns and unintentional shootings. Alcohol often is associated with domestic violence.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were approximately 75,000 deaths caused by excessive alcohol use in 2001. In 2003, there were more than 2 million hospitalizations and more than 4 million emergency room visits for alcohol-related conditions. What they cannot provide are statistics for the unreported victims: the child crying at night because his father is drunk again; the distraught mother whose child never will come home; the wife who prays that her husband will get a DUI, hoping it will sober him up a bit. These victims are countless.

A newly publicized issue is the increased incidence of teen and preteen alcoholics. They find beer and liquor easy to come by and an initial source of popularity. They slip it into Gatorade bottles and add food coloring, then bring it to school undetected. Daily. It soon affects their grades, relationships and health. Alcoholics Anonymous says 10 percent of its members are under 30.

I fail to see the pleasure others derive from stumbling around like idiots, doing things they won't recall and risking life and limb. People do this to themselves on purpose? Don't people realize how foolish it is to drink?

I think of alcohol as Stupid Potion. It seems to me that there are many nonalcoholic beverages that taste incredible and are guaranteed not to kill you.

If you or someone you care about may have a drinking problem, please get help. There are many free resources in our area.

Brogdon has four children and lives in Denair. E-mail her at