It’s New Year’s Eve, and a young man’s thoughts turn to — drinking! Probably middle-aged and old men’s thoughts, too. Why, after all, isn’t that what people are supposed to do on the last night of the old year in order to welcome in the new? It’s what’s expected. Why else would one of the top feature stories in today’s local paper be about how to recover from a hangover?
The New Year’s celebration is just another excuse to become inebriated. Young men and women especially seem to think it is the cool thing to do anytime of year, not just at the end of it. They think it’s humorous, too. I could always get a chuckle out of my normally somber Finnish students by making a crack about their alcohol consumption.
Alcohol addiction is no laughing matter, however. For the record, I am not against drinking per se. Once in a while I like to drink something. I’m not ready to lead a temperance march to city hall.
The problem with drinking is that too many people use it as another method to douse their pain. It’s not just for enjoyment. In doing so, they just create more pain. They leave behind wreckage such as damaged spouses and children, manslaughter due to drunk driving, and self inficted wounds.
Alcohol abuse is one of the main social problems of Finland, the country I just moved from. It is also one of the drags on American society, too, although we have many, including drug abuse and crime. Alcoholism is nothing new here.
A close friend from childhood and I recently recalled how many of the fathers in our neighborhood made drinking such a big part of their lives. Like other social ills, it seems to have carried forward to subsequent generations.
Not only did the local paper have a story about how to recover from a hangover today, but it also carried an article in which the police announced that a student who disappeared after a concert this autumn, and who has yet to be found, had been drinking beforehand. The police have made it clear that the drinking is not a significant issue in their case, but the story does say that it reveals her “uncharacteristic and irrational behavior” the night of her disappearance.
If she wasn’t drunk, then the story seems to at least suggest that the drinking contributed to her not being in control of herself. It’s not my place to judge her, but if alcohol did contribute to her loss of judgement, then it should be addressed so others can learn from it.
Overdoing alcohol consumption is not funny. It wrecks lives. There are better ways to deal with pain than getting soused, even if it is New Year’s Eve.