Monday, October 6, 1997

Week of 10/06/1997

Of Binges and Prohibition Boneheads
What those who failed to learn now comes back to haunt them
- by David Matthews 2

Beer, wine, mixed drinks, wine coolers, malt liquor. The nature of alcohol is as intoxicating as the substance. It’s the only place where you can actually ask for "sex on the beach" and not get arrested for indecent exposure. Where commenting on a "fuzzy nipple" won’t result in the waitress slapping you. Where you can "climb the mountains" and go for the "gusto" and actually have a debate between "less filling" and "taste great." And where three frogs, two lizards, and one dog named Spuds have been turned into media icons.

But like anything else in the world, alcohol can lead to excess. Casual drinking can turn into binge drinking. And binge drinking can lead to death.

This past month, two separate universities have had to handle cases where a student literally drank himself to death. Of course, these events have made the national headlines, especially in light of the recent death of Princess Diana and how her driver was five times over the legal limit of intoxication. So the media, in its hypersensitive and hyperactive state, has focused its bloodshot and myopic eyes towards binge drinking and the college students who do that. We’re heard from doctors, administrators, casual alcohol drinkers, and of course today’s Prohibition crusaders who want the world to go dry.

We’ve got the who, the when, the where, and the how.. there’s just one thing missing: WHY people binge drink!

Okay boys and girls, pay close attention now because what I have to say is not only brutally honest, but is important. Like many of today’s Prohibition crusaders, I’ve thought about why college folks drink to get drunk. I couldn’t come up with an answer. I’ve waited tables at the campus pub, I’ve served drinks behind the bar, and I’ve taken alcohol awareness courses from Bartenders Against Drunk Driving. But when it came to why my academic brethren were getting blitzed just for the sake of getting blitzed, I was clueless.

Then I realized something: I was trying to come up with a rational explanation to something that wasn’t at all rational!

Understand that there are two facets of thinking - primal and intellectual. The primal deals with everything that goes on right here and now. What we see, hear, taste, feel, and otherwise sense in the real world right this moment. The intellectual deals with everything that isn’t connected to the here and now. That’s the side that deals with image, dreams, fantasy, ideas, goals, theology, philosophy. These two sides are supposed to work together in a form of balance or equilibrium. Operative words being "supposed to work together." Because the intellectual side of us deals in absolutes and ideal situations, however, it has this tendency to want to take over everything. It can be quite power-hungry.

Sometimes, and in some people, this overbearing facet of our mind will preclude us from enjoying the moment. After all, enjoying the moment or having fun resides in the realm of the primal, and that often conflicts with our intellectual ideas and goals. And since we presume that the intellectual side is superior, it will often ruin any attempt to enjoy the moment.

So we have one of two solutions: either we allow our intellectual mind to ruin our lives for us, or we find a way to suppress it. And that brings us to alcohol.

Alcohol is a depressant, despite the fact that some folks are more rowdy when drunk, because it suppresses certain sections of the brain. Balance, coordination, and dexterity, are all affected, but the number one reason why alcohol appeals to people is because it suppresses the intellectual mind! It puts that overbearing, power-hungry, tyrant of anything concerned with fun to sleep!

And that is why Prohibition crusaders will never learn from their failed lessons, because they don’t realize that the problem is not alcohol, but rather with our fanatic reliance on the notion that every situation is an intellectual one. They deal in unrealistic ideals, which is fine for them because the intellectual mind cannot handle reality! Reality rests solely in the realm of the primal, something these people consider to be inherently evil.

Look, I realize that drinking just to get drunk is stupid. But until we recognize the reason WHY we get drunk, we will never find any sound and effective solutions to the problem. Instead, those same Prohibition crusaders will push for more unrealistic restrictions on an otherwise legal substance for adults, and will never get even remotely close to solving the problem.

Prohibition does not work! It didn’t work in the 1920’s, and it will not work today!

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