To help Christians and churches better understand what the Bible says on both alcohol and illegal drug use, the Christian Life Commission has compiled a new resource. It is a six-page document titled "On Alcohol & Drug Use: A Biblical Perspective." (It does not deal with prescription drug abuse; we hope to do something soon on that subject.)
In American culture alcohol use is common. Advertising associates drinking with good times, parties, and beautiful people. It may not, however, be as widely consumed as sometimes perceived. The 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health said 70.1 percent of people reported they drank alcoholic beverages in the past year; 56.0 percent reported that they drank in the past month. That's most Americans, but almost half of Americans steered clear of alcohol over the previous month.
Still, the negative consequences of alcohol abuse are staggering. According the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, here are some of the stats:
- An estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. The first is tobacco, and the second is poor diet and physical inactivity.
- In 2014, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 9,967 deaths (31 percent of overall driving fatalities).
- In 2010, alcohol misuse cost the United States $249.0 billion.
- Three-quarters of the total cost of alcohol misuse is related to binge drinking.
- More than 10 percent of U.S. children live with a parent with alcohol problems.
- Research indicates that alcohol use during the teenage years could interfere with normal adolescent brain development and increase the risk of developing AUD. In addition, underage drinking contributes to a range of acute consequences, including injuries, sexual assaults, and even deaths—including those from car crashes.
- 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor-vehicle crashes.
- 696,000 students are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.
- 97,000 students report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
- About 1 in 4 college students report academic consequences from drinking, including missing class, falling behind in class, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall.
The CLC resource summarizes what the Bible has to say on the subject and identifies the importance of "intoxication" in drawing principles that can be used more broadly.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health provides much helpful data on illicit drug use, and there is more information on the alcohol use at the National Institutes of Health.
There was a time when churches emphasized the dangers associated with alcohol and drug use. Some now avoid the topic because alcohol use is so common, but it is important for Christians and church attenders to know what Scripture actually says. The CLC hopes this resource will help churches deal responsibly with this important issue.