Guest column by Thomas E. Toney

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Alcohol by any definition deadly, especially for underage

Alcohol use is very popular in the United States. People consider alcohol use to be a part of their regular activities and are not troubled in any way. The facts about alcohol do not necessarily back up this notion.

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Here are just a few of the things that you should know before you become a regular user of alcohol. Alcohol is a drug and because of its widespread use and the fact that it is legal has caused more human misery than any other drug. It is also the most abused drug and affects more people.

Alcohol changes how you feel and act. Have you ever known a person who is real nice except when he is drinking? It sometimes completely changes a person’s temperament. It is sort of like a Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde.

When people get drunk they no longer have control. They have trouble walking and doing other simple tasks. Yet their mind tells them that they are great and can do anything. A person loses his inhibitions which are self imposed restraints. Things that they would not do under normal situations are now well within the person’s capacity.

It only takes one drink to affect a person’s ability to drive safely. Which leads to three out of ten people in the United States being involved in an alcohol-related crash sometimes in their life.

Statistics say that half of all teen and adult drownings involve alcohol use. Yet most of the time everyone who goes to the lake has to carry an ice chest full of beer.

The frightening fact about alcohol use that I learned from my research was that alcohol affects every organ in the body. I had thought about the heart, liver, kidney and brain, but I did not know that alcohol leads to half the cancers in the esophagus, larynx and mouth. The more I study about alcohol the worse it gets.

Alcoholics say that their problems are what causes them to drink, but alcohol can’t solve problems. It only creates new ones. One of which is that 75,000 people die every year as a result of alcohol use. Alcohol is also high in calories and it can make you gain weight. Mississippians have the highest rate of obesity in the nation. Could some of this be a result of our love of alcohol?

I guess that drinking will continue to be an excuse for us. Since Mississippi is rated last when compared with other states in most categories we will just use alcohol to help us forget about our problems and make us think that everything is OK. My suggestion instead would be to get a good education and prepare yourself for a worthwhile life. Being a productive citizen along with being a good example to your children in my mind is the ultimate high.

Thomas E. Toney

(Editor’s note: Thomas E. Toney is South Panola Community Coalition Project Director for the Strategic Prevention Framework/State Incentive Grant’s Underage Drinking Program)