A Continuing Serious Problem

To some this word evokes a feeling of disgust. To perhaps a few, a feeling of sorrow and compassion. To many families alcoholism has brought havoc, tragedy, hopelessness and utter frustration. To all Christians it is a matter of deep concern. They are reminded of the words of Saint Paul, “no drunkard shall inherit the Kingdom of God.”

Alcoholic beverages have been used from ages past. Noah drank shortly after the Flood. Israelites did. So did kings and peoples of pagan countries. Thc first recorded miracle of our Saviour was to turn water into wine and that of an unusually good quality. Wine was used at the Last Supper and became symbolic of Redemption. Paul advises Timothy to use wine for medicinal purposes. Thus, like so many things, it can be used rightly but it also can be misused.

Today the user of alcoholic beverages can be classified either as a social drinker or as an alcoholic. The social drinker drinks what the host offers him, for the purpose of making the meal or social gathering more pleasant.

The alcoholic, in contrast, drinks stealthily. He drinks when no one see him and hides his liquor. Often he drinks the first thing in the morning, rationalizing that it will fortify him to meet the problems of the day. He will have experienced what is commonly called “black outs” and also “the shakes.” There has been Monday absenteeism from his work with a false excuse. The foreman has warned him of his poor workmanship and absenteeism. He loses his job and his credit rating. Meanwhile there has been severe marital discord ending often in divorce. His creditors are hounding him. Eventually the condition becomes unbearable, he moves to a distant city, takes a different name. There he is a stranger, eventually dies and is buried in a paupers grave. For many life is terminated by suicide or a fatal auto accident due to drunken driving.

Frustrations of Help

For the alcoholic there is but one alternative to addiction and that is absolute sobriety for the rest of his life. Many programs stress education and rehabilitation. These are often very expensive, often government subsidized, meaning that you the taxpayer are the one who is actually paying for them. The results of these programs have not been impressive. The reason for this is that one cannot grasp or understand the behavior of the alcoholic. What one considers might be helpful can actually be harmful. Walter, an alcoholic, came to me and said, “Doctor, at long last r have come to recognize that I am an alcoholic.” told him that was a very important step towards rehabilitation. He went on to say that it would be difficult for him to get a job since people were aware that he was an alcoholic. He then asked me to assign him to our photographic department since he would be working in the dark room developing films. Since no one would see him while working in the dark room he would not be visible to the public. He was assigned to this detail. I am sure many readers have already determined the outcome and wonder how I could have been so naive. The dark room was the ideal place on the hospital grounds to hide his liquor.

Meditation and Motivation

How can an alcoholic attain and insure sobriety? We have medication called Antabuse which will help him achieve this. It has been on the market a long time. It is not experimental. An alcoholic knows all about it. He knows that if he takes his tablet and swallows even a very small amount of alcohol he will experience a most uncomfortable reaction. There will be a throbbing in his head and neck, marked sweating, vomiting and chest pains. This reaction occurs only with the combination of medication and alcohol. The medication alone is harmless. Experience has shown that only a few alcoholics will continue to take the medication. The medication cannot provide the essential ingedrient to sobriety which is motivation. The Spirit of God provides that. In a few instances the action is miraculous. Usually the Spirit acts through the means of grace. Every Christian is well aware of the means of grace he must use, such as prayer, Bible study, church attendance and fellowship with other Christians if he is to maintain Christ-oriented daily living. So too, an alcoholic must avail himself of antabuse, and Alcoholic Anonymous, with the means of grace Christians use.

Dr. Vander Kamp, a retired physician, was for many years at the Veterans Neuropsychiatric Hospital near Battle Creek, Mich., where for the past 10 year.; alcohol and drug addictUm has been the chief problem encountered. Disturibed by observing the increasing prevalence of the drinking problem also in our churches, he calls attention to it in this article.