Sometimes, in the wanderings of my mind as I breathe in and out, I imagine a peaceful and serene world. A world without violence, a world without murder, a world without accidental deaths, injury, suffering, disease, and pain. This wonderful world would be devoid of divorce, rape, other traumas, relational and family problems. Day to day life would be full of tolerance and love for one another versus hatred and fear. Stress would be replaced with peace and harmony.
Unless you believe in the hope of heaven, which I do, I realize that this world is a fantasy, a product of imagination. A place you and I will never actually experience, at least not until we die. But, what if we could make our world right now a little more heavenly? What if we could make our corner of the world a little more peaceful? What if I had the key to bringing us a little closer to a better world, would we have the courage to take the step?
The first step in stopping the madness is for every person in the world to make and keep the commitment to quit drinking, specifically excessive drinking, or never start in the first place. Step two is to stop using nicotine and then use the resources saved to feed the world - but that is a blog for a different day.
What would happen if everyone who drank to excess stopped drinking or never began? For starters, a whole lot of children under the age of 18 would live instead of die as alcohol kills more children in this world than all other drugs combined. Millions of adults would also live longer as 3.3 million people worldwide die due to its impact. Apart from saving lives, many resources would be saved from the reduction of crime, jails and prison time, divorce, hospital stays, disease, accidental injury not to mention the reduction of individual, relational, familial, community, and national stress and pain. What a great first step.
There are some people who can have a glass of wine or a drink with dinner, etc., who do not experience any negative consequences from a modest intake of alcohol. The difference however, is excessive drinking and drinking in an attempt to mask pain or discomfort. From my life experience, I cannot think of anyone who has ever said their life is much better because they drink so much alcohol that they lose control or wake up the following morning feeling sick and hungover. On the other hand, I know plenty of people who have experienced negative consequences from overusing alcohol, even when their typical pattern is moderate. How many lives have been ruined by overdrinking one night and driving a vehicle? How many people do things and say things they regret after excessive drinking?
For some, a path of recovery from the dependence and addiction of alcohol is the only way to stop the madness and to experience a little bit of heaven on earth. This past week, I attended the annual conference of the Association of Recovery in Higher Education in Atlanta, Georgia. There were 400 people in attendance. Most of them were individuals in long-term recovery. At our meetings, dinners, and award ceremonies, no one drank alcohol. Everyone was stone cold sober. When we went to the Braves game or watched the Atlanta Hawks together, rather than buying beer from the many vendors who made it readily accessible, we connected, talked, and cared for one another. It was simply amazing. It inspires me that so many have already taken the first step to a better world by finding and staying in recovery. They set the sobriety bar and lead the way in stopping the madness.
- Dr. Tom
Thomas G. Kimball, Ph.D., LMFT
Dr. Kimball serves as the Director of the Center for Collegiate Recovery Communities and holds the George C. Miller Family Regents Professorship at Texas Tech University. He is co-author of the book, Six Essentials to Achieve Lasting Recovery, Hazelden Press. He is also a Clinical Director with MAP Health Management, LLC.
World Health Organization: From the Global Status Report (2014) http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs349/en/