Just like what morphine,
which is itself very dangerously addictive, can do for intractable
pain, alcohol has its occasional uses. For instance, it enables
the shy little man to socialize with the ladies, or "one
or two glasses of French red wine does one's heart good."
But, alcohol in these instances are not the only means of achieving
the desired effects. Just like not using morphine except say in
terminal cases, alcohol should not be used when other, safer,
less addictive measures are available.
Only when a person has a high degree of self-control should he/she
be permitted to use it for only health, not social, reasons. That
is because whenever one already needs it for social reasons, one
is already psychologically frail, or not strong enough to use
alcohol rather being used by it. Psychological weakness predisposes
one to depending on something able to "kill the pain," or "raise one's spirit."
The weaker a person's psyche, the less one can or would exercise
self-restraint. Hence, the more one needs alcohol for social reasons,
the more likely one would use and be unable to stop early enough
to avoid becoming an alcoholic. But, a strong-willed person repelling
alcohol under all circumstances and desiring to live longer with
daily two glasses of French red wine ( like myself;
but even then, I still do not touch French red wine or any colour
of wine ) usually would
be able to drink moderately only for health and not turn alcoholic.
Most importantly, socialization
should be done psychosocially, not alcoholically. Children should
be brought up to socialize with others in a careful, socially
acceptable and intelligent manner: to talk to, shake hands or
play with, those who can be trusted, and sometimes to speak in
front of a crowd, etc. Once the parents and teachers have done
their job well enough to provide the children the necessary social
skills, there can be no need nor excuse for alcohol. It's like
when aspirin is sufficient to kill a pain, the "pain"
is only an excuse to get hold of morphine.
The major concern is what alcohol does to the brain. One shot
of brandy can make a novice "tipsy." That is why people
are forbidden by law to drive with a blood alcohol level exceeding
the legal limit. Perhaps one with a level greater than it might
not show other signs of impairment. Yet, already, one's judgment
or perception of reality is already compromised. Instead of rapid
perception and reflexive response, one fails to react in the normal
time frame. Hence, one crashes when otherwise an accident could
have been avoided. But, alas, that is only the tip of
the iceberg, reflecting how alcohol impairs brain function. Fortunately,
the latter in man and animals in its natural state is the NORMAL.
Normality has been the natural state favouring propagation of
the species. Therefore, those normal have been able to reproduce
and preserve themselves more so than the abnormal. This is a process
of natural selection which however is inadequate to lead
to the biological evolution
of the Darwinian thinking
for one species to evolve
into the next. Because the mentally normal has been so propagated,
substances incompatible with the brain's natural state could and
often do cause the brain to behave in an abnormal or "unnatural"
Since alcohol is one of those unnatural substances to the brain,
it interacts with it in such a manner as to make it function in
a less than ideal or "normal" fashion. Other than chronic
alcoholism, there is also this very acute "drunkenness."
Usually people do not consider drunkenness as a state of mental
illness. Yet, in terms of the nature of this form of mental derangement,
being drunk is no different from being cocaine-intoxicated: both
being a state of mental impairment by the use of an exogenous
substance. When the psychosis of cocaine intoxication is usually
classified as "drug-induced psychosis," why shouldn't
the bizarre, often violent state of drunkenness be recognized as a form of "alcohol-induced
The truth is that long before a person is classifiable as a chronic
alcoholic, the moment one gets truly drunk and shows "loss
of the head" as reflected in violent or bizarre behaviour,
one actually is already exhibiting alcohol-induced psychotic behaviour
endangering the self and particularly others. One is, while drunk
in those cases, definitely the usual self. One's perception of
reality, intellectual control or modulation of thinking and behaviour,
and even the understanding as well as regulation of the most basic
physiological functions such as defecation are impaired. One loses
social manners, becomes abusive, violent . . ., showing oneself
to be a person totally different from the usual self. Murders
have been committed by such drunkards while intoxicated. They
simply did not know or could not control what they were doing---
in a way satisfying Canadian Criminal Code definition of legal
insanity. This element of violence and loss of intellectual control
of the self in drunkenness makes such drunkards true dangers to
the society. I have seen people who while sober were truly civilized,
learned and rational, civilized by a knowledge of reality and
philosophical reasoning, and yet while drunk, lost all sense of
civility and reason. They while drunk, lost that capacity to properly
think and regulate their own behaviour according to knowledge
or reason. As a result, they wounded and murdered while drunk.
Occasionally, a drunkard murdered his best pal. That is the "toxicity
of alcohol" on the brain, suppressing part or all of one's
intellectual functioning and disinhibiting one's basic rage or
violent instincts. This is why ever so often, abused wives tell
the tale of how nice their husbands were while sober and what
sort of monsters they turned into while drunk. Women too, show
this kind of "dual personality" psychosis: a raving
beauty can turn into a charging "bull" while drunk.
They are a true "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."( a
fictitious character who(Dr. Jekyll) transforms into a monstrous
person(Mr. Hyde) after deliberately taking an experimental drug).
Whereas multiple personality is a neurosis, this type of alcoholic
dual personality has to be considered a form of psychosis. The
reasons are similar if not identical to why cocaine intoxication
is a psychosis, not a neurosis.
Yet, because so many people want to defend drunkenness, both the
psychiatric and legal professions have not recognized it as "psychosis"
, calling it just "drunkenness" instead. That aside,
the message is not to drink unless absolutely necessary
to do so without any possibility of getting drunk or becoming
a chronic alcoholic.