Is the Cost of “Having a Good Time” Worth it?
The Irish are known the world over as a drinking people. We dislike this stereotype, and it is certainly not true that everyone in Ireland drinks. But statistics show that on average we do consume more alcohol than most other nations. In 2010, the average Irish person aged 15+ drank 11.9 litres of pure alcohol, the equivalent of about 44 bottles of vodka, 470 pints or 124 bottles of wine. That is about 20% more than the average European. Add to this the fact that over half of Irish drinkers have a harmful pattern of drinking and it is clear we have a problem! Yet it is very normal and acceptable in our country to go out and get stoned drunk most weekends. Many aspects of Irish social life include alcohol, and it is a very normal part of our lives. But does this happy-go-lucky, pint-in-hand image of the quintessential Irishman come at a cost?
Our national obsession with alcohol does come at a cost, often a high one. In 2007 Alcohol related problems cost the Irish State an estimated 3.7 billion euros. But far greater than the financial cost is the cost in human life and human dignity. I remember recently going to the funeral of a young man who had died tragically in our town. My heart broke for the family. Amid a large crowd, I listened as the priest described this man’s death as a tragedy. I thought “It was a tragedy, but not a freak accident – it was preventable!” In a society where abusing alcohol is socially acceptable, this kind of incident is viewed as an accident. In reality, it could have been prevented by not drinking alcohol. I remember looking into the water where this man drowned and thinking “It wasn’t the liquid in the river, but the liquid in his bloodstream that killed that young man.”There is also a cost in human dignity. In the book of Proverbs in the Bible, God describes the humiliation of a person caught in the cycle of alcoholism. “They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; They have beaten me, and I felt it not: When shall I awake? I will seek it yet again. (Proverbs 23:35) These results and others lead me to conclude that the price of having a good time, if it requires the abuse of alcohol, is indeed too high.
The fact is, we know drinking is destructive, yet we still do it. Why? Some, particularly young people, drink out of a sense of worthlessness. Their life lacks purpose and significance and they are tempted to think “what does it matter if I waste my life in alcoholism?” Some drink to escape the horror of their life or their past. Alcohol becomes an anesthetic to numb the pain of living. Some look to alcohol for satisfaction, living for the weekend and good times had in the pub. God has answers for all of these problems! Did you know, no matter who you are, you are valuable to God, and He has a great purpose for your life? Jesus said “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31) God further states that only “in His presence there is fullness of joy.” (Psalm 16:11) Only He can satisfy us and heal the pain and hurt of life. In reality, what we as a nation are looking for in the end of a bottle can only be found in a personal relationship with God. If you would like to know how to have such a relationship click here.