Sunday, July 12, 2015

What Did I Do?

The April 1973 issue of “Reader’s Digest” reported alcohol problems raining misery and ruin upon thousands of young lives, allegedly permeating every level of society (April 1973). J. L. Collier reported a “New Drug Menace” that some still dodge with a shrug of the shoulder.  Marketing strategies continue to bless industrial products that inflate health costs prompting representatives of the Distilled Spirits Council to conclude, “Advertising does not change behavior.”  If you’re going to drink, they suggest, “we want you to use our brand.”

Beverage producers package their alcoholic products in slick wrap that subtly-but-falsely implies emotional, financial, and sexual success. This highly profitable product pays splendid dividends for marketers while destroying young lives, whole families, and vast fortunes. Super Bowl competition for best ad of the year pays huge bundles of money to purchase scant minutes of commercial time, all the while insisting their ads do nothing to influence the personal behavior of customers purchasing their product.

When one District Legislator discovered one-third of all traffic victims in his state resulted from drinking while driving, he concluded it was a serious problem that needed “a strong solution.” Sixty thousand drivers in his state were arrested while under the influence. Among his constituent were 500-600 citizens that fell victim to a drinking driver. An additional 44,000 drivers had three-or-more DWI violations. That, concluded this legislator, is why “I sponsored legislation to make our drunk driving laws tougher.”

This public official did what he could do. So, what can we do? Here are four steps that will help each of us in in creating a safer driving environment.

1. Admit that alcohol is a drug problem. It is the number one problem because so many think it is too lite to make any difference. However, alcohol is a depressant and that very first drink reduces the inhibitions, lowers one’s awareness, and paves the way for an unintended down-hill slide.

2.  Educate yourself. Locate your local Substance Abuse Council and find abundant information free of charge. The National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information  (SAMHSA) offers a wide range of information (information only) at 1-800-729-6686 24 hour Toll Free Voice Mail … website:

3. Network with others! This is not a  situation you solve by yourself. Join others  in protecting our youth and in downsizing the amount of advertising that that falsely targets young drivers.

4. Give the right message at home. The most powerful advertisement for alcohol often sits at your kitchen table, or sleeps it off in your bedroom.

While a majority of Americans admit to drinking alcoholic beverage, most think that tragedy happens only to others. The reality is that none of us is immune to the effects of a problem drinker in the family.  At least 75,000,000 American family members are affected by a family member who is a problem drinker. Consider the young pastor who left his church office to enjoy a noon lunch with his waiting wife. This thirty-two-year-old graduate of the University of Kentucky cranked up his motorcycle and headed home.

A drinking driver failed to stop at a stop sign and overran the cyclist. The homebound-pastor died instantly in the intersection. The accident victim left behind him a whole string of victims that resulted from drinking while driving. He left behind a grieving congregation that had been robbed of their spiritual leader. He unintentionally left a broken-hearted widow, with whom he planned to spend the remainder of his life. Moreover, he left three fatherless boys--eight, six, and fifteen months, forced to grow to adulthood without the counsel and friendship of the most important man in their lives.

When meeting tragedy, we often ask, “Why didn’t somebody do something?” The better question that few people will ask is, “What did I do?” From Warner’s World, this is (one of the 75,000,000 with a problem drinker in the family).

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