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Just a Social Drink
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Many people pride themselves by saying, “I am not an alcoholic, I am a social drinker and I know when to quit. I do not break the law. I am in control of my behavior.” That may be true, but have you given thought to how far-reaching your influence on others can be?

A fatal accident, involving the lives of four young people, took place on one of the nation’s highways. The evidence that liquor was the culprit was found in the broken whiskey bottles among the debris and mangled bodies of the four youthful victims. The father of one of the girls in frenzied anguish over the untimely death of his beautiful daughter threatened to kill the one who had provided the four young people with liquor, but upon going to the cupboard where he kept his supply of choice beverages, he found a note in his daughter’s handwriting, “Dad, we’re taking along some of your good liquor—I know you won’t mind.”—Christian Union Herald.

This father was not an alcoholic. For all practical purposes, he was just a social drinker. However, it cost him the death of his beautiful daughter and three of her friends.

Social drinking is the consumption of alcohol without reaching the point of being drunk. It is drinking in a safe, legal, and responsible manner that allows people to socialize. The above definition tends to give a false sense of security that encourages, especially young people, to indulge in the behavior, thinking that they are in control. However, many people are not aware of the more subtle habit-forming practice of social drinking that in many instances leads to addictions—addictions that are often so covert and pervasive that they are as invisible to us as the air we breathe. Yet these addictions may be impacting us negatively just as much as the more overt addictions.

Powerless to Stop Chaos

When habits or behaviors such as drinking come to dominate daily life, and people find themselves powerless to stop the chaos despite many promises to do so, then it is very likely that an addiction is active. Addictions can be formed to any activity or behavior that may seem to allow people to escape from life and its problems. There is a growing problem of drug and alcohol abuse among young people, especially on college campuses where the rigors of college life seem to invite young people to want to find an escape through the use of alcohol.

The noted Canadian physician Sir William Osler was lecturing one day on alcohol. “Is it true,” asked a student, “that alcohol makes people able to do things better?” “No,” replied Sir William, “it just makes them less ashamed of doing them badly.”

Martin M. Hyzer tells the following story. One day President Abraham Lincoln was riding in a coach with a colonel from Kentucky. The colonel took a bottle of whiskey out of his pocket and offered Mr. Lincoln a drink. Mr. Lincoln said, “No thank you, Colonel. I never drink whiskey.” In a little while, the colonel took some cigars out of his pocket and offered one to Mr. Lincoln. Again Mr. Lincoln said, “No thank you, Colonel.” Then Mr. Lincoln said, “I want to tell you a story. One day, when I was about nine years old, my mother called me to her bed. She was very sick. She said, ‘Abe, the doctor tells me that I am not going to get well. I want you to be a good boy. I want you to promise me before I go that you will never use whiskey or tobacco as long as you live.’ I promised my mother that I never would, and up to this hour, I kept this promise! Would you advise me to break that promise?”

The colonel put his hand on Mr. Lincoln’s shoulder and said, “Mr. Lincoln, I would not have you break that promise for the world! It is one of the best promises you ever made. I would give a thousand dollars today if I had made my mother a promise like that and had kept it like you have done. I would be a much better man than I am!”

May God give us, as parents, the strength, the courage, and the fortitude to have that kind of influence on our children.

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By Lois King, PH.D., a family life educator from Leominster, Massachusetts. Reprinted with persmission from Message Magazine, January/February 2007. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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