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Danger in Disguise
By Dr. Winston Craig

Glass with red grape juice

         People often turn to alcohol when they want to have a good time or to eliminate worries. But it can do  neither. Alcohol promises a good life, but delivers much less.

         Alcohol leaves a trail of destruction wherever it goes. Thousands lose their lives every year on the highways from alcohol-related accidents. Alcohol is also implicated in many homicides, assaults, suicides, robberies, and incidents of domestic violence, including child molestations and rape. Problem drinking is also a significant factor in divorce, as well as absenteeism and reduced work productivity.

         Red wine is promoted as being good for cardiovascular health since it raises the good HDL cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of blood clots. However, regular exercise and red grape juice, respectively, can accomplish the same two things. Exercise and red grape juice would be much safer choices to promote cardiovascular health. When factors other than heart disease are considered, the dangers of drinking alcohol far outweigh any potential benefits.

        The regular use of alcohol is associated with cirrhosis of the liver, increased risk of stroke, osteoporosis, birth defects, and it depresses the immune system. Millions become physically addicted to alcohol. The use of alcohol also increases the risk of cancer of the mouth, liver, pancreas, large bowel, rectum, and stomach. Risk of breast cancer increases about 20 percent in women consuming one alcoholic drink per week.

            Alcohol is a potent central nervous system depressant and can affect the pharmacologic action of both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Over 100 medications are known to react adversely when taken along with alcohol. Alcohol-drug interactions are reported to be the most frequent cause of drug-related medical crises in the United States.

           Alcohol impairs mental functions. Even at the lowest measurable level, alcohol impairs perception, learning,  judgment, and reaction time. Sweden's National Road and Traffic Research Institute found that subjects whose blood alcohol level had returned to zero just one day after drinking,  till drove significantly worse than they did prior to drinking. 

           Boston researchers determined that alcohol-related brain damage can begin with social drinking.  With CAT scans they found shrinkage of the brain even in light to moderate drinkers. Brain shrinkage begins in the frontal lobes where the centers for decision-making and moral values are located
in the brain. According to the Director of the World Health Organization Program on Substance Abuse, there is no minimum threshold below which alcohol can be consumed without any risk. Long ago, Solomon wrote that those who linger over the wine that sparkles in the cup, experience strife and sorrow, since in the end it bites like a snake (Prov 23:29-32).

By Winston Craig, PhD
Andrews University

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Books by Dr. Winston Craig