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Alcohol: Good vs. Evil

Alcohol is a dangerous drug that both directly and indirectly kills millions of lives each year because of its frequent abuses. However, it is one of the most widely used and accepted drugs, and when used wisely, alcohol presents few problems. Yet, alcohol stirs major controversy every day as to its real and lasting effects on society. There are major organizations, such as MADD and SADD, all across the United States that lobby desperately for its banishment. Yet, Alcohol is a visual part of almost every aspect of everyday life from all across the media to every major sports venue to right inside the homes of most American families. Why is a substance that is despised by some people, tolerated and enjoyed by so many others? In this paper, I will examine what is at the root of this controversy surrounding Alcohol in our country. I will look at the places that alcohol exists in America, both legally and illegally, with a specific eye towards its uses and abuses on college campuses across the United States.

Everywhere you go it is there. There is a liquor store around every other corner. Beer is sold in almost every gas station along America s roads. And television, newspapers, and magazines are covered in ads for liquor and beer makers. It is a driving force in the economy of America that our nation can not afford to live without due to the amount of jobs that would be lost and the investments that are tied up in the industry. The beer industry alone has grown to an over 50 billion dollar a year business according to fortune magazine, and it employs countless numbers of people from delivery drivers to liquor store owners to factory workers (Fortune 141.8, 560). Deeply rooted at the heart of all those profits are universities and colleges all across the nation. They are the major reason that liquor sales have skyrocketed the way they have the last few years. Some campuses, in an attempt to curb excessive uses of alcohol by their students, have tried to totally delete it from their school by going to a dry campus policy which restricts the presence of alcohol on campus. While these policies work to eliminate the visible presence of alcohol, it still thrives behind the closed doors of the dorms. Alcohol s availability is a major reason why dry campuses have not been more effective. Students can literally walk a block off campus and have their choice of several liquor stores and gas stations in which to purchase alcohol. A large portion of the business that these stores are receiving is through underage college kids. They through the use of fake identification and persons over the legal age, students are purchasing alcohol at an astounding rate.

Long before college campuses were implementing dry policies, sparsely populated counties across America have been going dry. Though the availability is not quite a strong you can still usually buy alcohol around the next corner out of the county. These policies have kept homemade brewing of wine, beer, and moonshine and illegal bootlegging around in the post prohibition era. In these counties it is not illegal to possess or drink; however, the selling of alcohol is strictly prohibited.

One of the major reasons why people have attempted to eliminate alcohol from certain places is because of the serious drunk driving problem that exists. In 1999, nearly 16,000 people were killed and 900,000 injured in crashes attributed to drunk driving (Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Weekly 11.48, 8). Organizations have popped up all across the nation to campaign against it. The first such organization was Mothers Against Drunk Driving, MADD. Others such as Students Against Drunk Driving, SADD, have followed closely behind in their efforts to curb senseless deaths due to drunk driving. Another major problem that has arisen due to alcohol s abuses is alcoholism, which not only affects the afflicted person but also everyone around that particular person. The families of an alcoholic most often endure intense psychological and emotional abuse, as well as physical and sexual abuses that leave mental and physical scars on a person that last a lifetime. If a person lives with alcoholism for too long a condition called cirrhosis of the liver can occur in which the liver hardens up and becomes useless causing death. Other widespread problems caused by the abuses of alcohol are alcohol poisoning, loss of inhibitions leading to unprotected sex, and an unhealthy lifestyle.

However, everything associated with alcohol is not altogether bad. When used in moderation it is a mild stimulant that has been around since near the beginning of time. It is used by tens of millions of people everyday. Its personal uses include having a glass of wine with dinner, drinking socially at a bar or a party, having a drink to ease stress after a long day in the office, and in Europe alcohol or wine is often used as a replacement for water to quench thirst. In a study shown in American Health magazine, People who have at most two drinks a day reduce their risk of heart attack by 40 %, while moderate drinkers also exhibit the lowest death rates (15.1, 60). At every professional and most collegiate sporting events, alcohol is a staple through advertising and beer consumption. Several colleges and universities across the nation are taking the opposite approach to the dry campus policy. They have adopted new policies to limit the excessive drinking by students that change their perceptions of drinking norms and condoning moderate drinking behavior, says The Chronicle of Higher Education. Northern Illinois University has reported that since they have implemented this program student drinking has dropped by over 33% (44.9, 61-62).

Both sides are pointing the blame at someone else, and our society is continues to be torn by this controversy. In the United States, alcohol has a deliciously evil glow to it. It has a sort of ora surrounding it that makes it appealing because it is considered bad in the back of people s minds. In some of the more successful countries in Europe, alcohol is introduced at a very young age and it is taught to be respected, not feared. Because of this, they have fewer problems with it in their countries. Eliminating the drinking age in the United States would not necessarily solve the problem though because the perceptions of alcohol are ingrained in the back of the minds of Americans. Steps toward solving the problems should be steps of education, such as the programs implemented at Northern Illinois University, not steps of fear and attack that are present today. The first step to solving a problem is realizing that there is a problem and pointing out exactly what is it, just as in the road to recovery from alcoholism. Once the opposing sides in this controversy can agree on the root of the problem, then America will be on its way to recovery from its form of alcoholism.

Works Cited :

Gose, Ben. Colleges try to curb excess drinking by saying moderation is okay.

The Chronicle of Higher Education 44.9 (1997): 61-62.

U.S. Rates A C+ in Drunk Driving Report. Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Weekly

11.48 (2000): 8.

Borden, Mark. Business Is Good, but Beer Is Better: the other b-school. Fortune

141.8 (2000): 560.

Califano, Julia. The Power of Positive Drinking. American Health 15.1 (1996): 60

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