~THE TRAGIC EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL ON FAMILIES – PART 1~
Drinking & Driving
by Skip & Jerry Mudge
“Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, And whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise.”
~ Proverbs 20:1
“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with Spirit.”
~ Ephesians 5:18
Both my wife, Jerry, and I come from families where drinking was prevalent, causing tragedy in both families. Both our first spouses drank heavily, their fathers drank heavily, other family members drank heavily and I drank heavily until I accepted Christ as Savior. My father drank and blew three marriages as a result. When I was a kid, sometimes I would have to pick him up out of a flower bed and carry him inside. Whenever my family would visit him, we never knew if he would be sober or not – more often he was not. In Jerry’s case, her only two sons died in a car crash because they had been drinking.
At least 10% of the families on our mailing list have losses directly attributed to drunk drivers. In case some of you did not know it, we have been doing preventive ministry in schools, churches & for convicted felons. In fact, Jerry began with MADD as early as 1993. We are hoping to prevent the deaths of other young people who are making wrong choices. None of us bereaved parents want to see others lose a child for any reason. Our daughter, Dr. Anne York, has arranged for us to speak at Elon College and Meredith College on the effects of binge drinking. We attend the annual Governors Conference on Underage Drinking here in NC. In Charlotte, there are over 200 AA classes weekly, so this is definitely a problem. In this issue of our Newsletter, we want to explore the effect of drinking while driving, efforts to stop underage drinking and suggest ideas of how readers can deal with this in their community.
ALCOHOLIC DRINKS ARE DANGEROUS
“Alcohol, or ethanol, is a poison with direct toxic effects on nerve and muscle cells…alcohol can have far reaching effects on different parts of the brain, peripheral nerves and muscles, with symptoms of memory loss, incoordination, seizures, weakness and sensory deficits…Alcohol related neurological disease include Wernicke-Korsakoff disease, alcoholic cerebella degeneration, alcoholic myopathy, alcoholic neuropathy, alcohol withdrawal syndrome with seizures and delirium tremens.” (www.genesishealth.com)
Excess intake of alcohol can cause intoxication or even death, for example, by binge drinking. Other damage can include:
- Changes in blood chemistry, resulting in loss of myelin coating around nerves Cirrhosis of the liver, impairing the liver’s ability to cleanse the blood of waste products.
- Respiratory depression & low blood pressure.
- Memory impairment & unable to learn new information.
- Suppresses immune system, making alcoholics susceptible to pneumonia & tuberculosis.
- Increased risk of bladder, prostate and colon cancer.
- Withdrawal symptoms: DTs, extreme body shaking, insomnia, confusion, hallucinations, seizures, etc.
THE STORY OF JERRY’S SONS
My only two sons were killed October 26, 1990 in a car accident. I was unable to sleep after the policeman came at 3:00 AM to let us know officially that the accident we saw on the 11 PM News was our sons: Leon Jonas Jr. & Wayne Jonas. I got up at 6:00 AM and called the Medical Examiner’s office to find out if they were going to do an autopsy like the TV news report said.
The main question that kept playing over and over in my mind was, “Why did Leon Jr. make a U-turn on Interstate 77 on a busy Friday night?” We had just seen our sons two hours before at home and they had been drinking.
Earlier we were on our way home from eating out when we saw an accident but we did not know it was our sons until later. We also didn’t know they had picked up a friend who wanted some pot. Wayne drove over to get the friend and the pot; Leon Jr. drove back. On the way back, for some unknown reason, Leon Jr. made a U-turn, skidded as he crossed the muddy median and a truck hit them from behind, killing all three.
Thank God the newspaper did not say anything the next day about the possibility of alcohol involvement. I really felt ashamed that my son was a drunk driver. I did not want anyone to know. An autopsy wasn’t done, just test for blood alcohol. Leon Jr’s was 0.17%, Wayne’s was 0.11% and their friend’s was 0.23%. The report came months after the car crash.
Besides feeling ashamed, I also felt a lot of guilt over their deaths for a long time. I felt responsible since I did not stay home that night and keep them talking. I felt I should have taken Leon Jr’s keys away from him. Because of the quilt I was feeling, I decided to work with MADD in the hopes of at least saving another child’s life. In 1994, me the mother of a drunk driver, received the MADD Volunteer of the Year Award.
I also became angry at Leon Jr. for causing not only his death but the death of his brother and their friend. I finally had to use a therapy I had heard about. I put Leon Jr’s picture in a chair and told him why I was angry at him and then I forgave him. I knew that I had to let go of the anger or it would ‘eat me up.’
But I also had anger at God for allowing it to happen, especially to me. I was faithfully serving Him and this crash made me feel like a bad mother. I felt people would judge me by my sons car crash. I stayed in church but had a hard time going because if I had tears, I though people would think my children were in hell. I had raised them in church their whole lives and both has accepted Christ as Savior.
I finally realized that my thoughts about being a bad mother, my anger with God for not taking care of my family were coming from the devil. He knows we are in grief and uses that to draw us away from God. One thought I had often was sorrow over the fact that Leon Jr. had never married and had children. I realized the devil was using this thought to bring me down further.
I finally forgave God and asked for His forgiveness; I’ve even grown closer to Him than ever before. I forgave myself because I know God forgave me. I know I can trust my sons to His care and some day I will see them again.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY
After my conversion to Christ, I (Skip) became a teetotaler. When associating with Christians from Euorpe, I was shocked when I found most drank a glass of wine frequently. After doing some research, I found that the Bible doesn’t absolutely forbid alcohol. The Bible:
- allows Christians to drink for medicinal purposes (1 Tim. 5:23)
- Sometimes portrays alcohol as something good and enjoyable (PS 104)
- Forbids drunkeness (Eph 5:6)
- Forbids drinking if it offends fellow believers (Rom. 14:15-21)
- Forbids drinking if it hinders the gospel (1 Cor. 9:19-23)
- Warns that drinking is often dangerous and unwise (Proverbs 23:31; 31:4-5) Because of the destructive effects on our families, Jerry and I still do not drink. We’ve witnessed in our families: death by car accident, broken marriages, loss of businesses and homes, car wrecks, jail sentences, broken health, loss of mental abilities, loss of health (perhaps cancer), homelessness, etc. AA has helped a few. Others have quit by turning their lives over to Christ. We are now available to speak at schools, colleges and church youth groups on our CHOICES program. If any of you would like to see our program, we have it on PowerPoint.
COMMENTS FROM OUR PRESENTATIONS
“I would like my children to see your presentation; it will teach them before it happens.”
“This program made me realize the importance of not drinking and driving. I won’t anymore.”
“I will try my best to never let this happen again; it had a very strong impact on me.”
“This program needs to be included in the driver’s ed program!”
~THE TRAGIC EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL ON FAMILIES~ Part 2:
Other Consequences of Drinking
by Skip & Jerry Mudge
We did an article on Drinking & Driving in our July/August 2004 Newsletter. There are a substantial number of families on our mailing list where alcohol was involved in the death of a child or loved one other than drunk driving. Because of this, we want to focus on other destructive effects of alcohol on families
ALCOHOL & SUICIDE
A strong association exists between alcohol and suicide. Several studies have shown that between 18 and 66% of suicide victims have alcohol in their blood at the time of their death. People who drink are twice as likely as others to commit suicide in the home. One study suggests that alcohol may be a factor in “impulsive” as opposed to “planned” suicide. Another study found that states in which more spirits are sold per person have higher suicide rates. A study of coroner’s reports and death certificates in Pennsylvania found that 45% of adolescent suicide victims had alcohol in their blood.
A recent study of three states found that suicide rates among 18-20 year olds decreased when the minimum legal drinking age was raised to 21, representing 424 lives per year in those three states.
Teen suicide victims who were intoxicated (a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10% or more) were 7 times more likely to have used a firearm than suicide victims with no alcohol in their blood.
A study in New Mexico found that reducing alcohol consuption and access to guns might help reduce the suicide rate among woman. The impulsive nature of suicides is facilitated by drinking, which clouds judgment. A similar study in PA found that reducing youth’s access to alcohol and guns reduces the suicide rate.
A study in St. Louis of alcoholics who committed suicide revealed that they were more likely to have four or more of the following characteristics:
- continued drinking
- a major depressive episode
- prior thoughts of suicide
- poor social support
- serious medical illness
- living alone
Another study found that:
- People who drink have a doubled increase in risk of suicide.
- People who have trouble at work due to drinking have a 6-fold increased risk of suicide.
- People who have been hospitalized with drinking problems had a 10-fold increased risk of death by suicide.
- People who do not drink and live with others who do not drink are 1.7 times more likely to die by homicide in the home.
There is a wealth of information in a report entitled Alcohol and Suicide: Facts in Brief at http://www.tf.org/tf/alcohol/ariv/facts/suicide5.html
ALCOHOL & HOMICIDE
There was a 10-year study in Australia on the relationship between alcohol and violent crime. This is summarized in Alchol and Homicide: A Routine Activities Analysis by Carlos Carach and Rowena Conroy. Their research suggests a strong association between alcohol consumption and violent behavior, in spite of the fact that not all drinkers are violent nor are those who are violent always under the influence of alcohol. Some of the their key findings are:
- Alcohol impairs a person’s information processing capacity, thus increasing the potential for misunderstandings in interpersoanl interactions, leading to violence. Alcohol impairs judgment, causing individuals to put themselves in situations at high risk of violence. Chronic alcohol abuse may be a marker for antisocial personality, which is associated with increased rates of violence.
- For the United States, estimates suggest that between 50% and 80% of assaults and homicides involve alcohol. Prison inmates detained for violent offenses have substantial alcohol problems.
- Woman are more likely to be victimized in their own homes than are men, whereas men are more likely to be victimized in public places. That’s definitely true here in Charlotte; some bars are notorious for frequent violence, with frequent murders.
ALCOHOL & DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
ARIV (Alcohol-Related Injury & Violence) also has summaries on Alcohol & Domestic Violence at http://www.tf.org/tf/alcohol/ariv/dv4.html Some findings are:
- Women whose partners abused alcohol were 3 to 6 times more likely than other women to be assaulted by their partners.
- Higher drinking among male partners was associated with women’s greater risk of being assaulted.
- Other factors associated with high levels of partner violence include experiencing violence during childhood & the tendency to act impulsively. Another study found that increasing the beer excise tax reduces domestic violence against children. Also reducing the alcohol outlets reduces domestic violence against children.
WHAT TO DO?
We could go on about the evils of alcohol, but most of these facts are well known. Countless movies have been made about “mean drunks.” There are quite a few on our Birthday/Anniversary Prayer list who got there because of problems with alcohol. We know of one girl who drank heavily so she could commit suicide. Some (underage) young men were murdered at bars they had no business being at. My own father, and uncles, could be “mean drunks.”
“Going to church” unfortunately is not the answer. Before I became a Christian, I attended dances at many Main Line churches where liquor was served. Not all fundamental churches have alcohol education/prevention programs and teens are falling away like crazy, especially when they hit college & someone sticks a beer in their hand. If a young person hasn’t established a scriptural conviction against drinking alcohol before then, they’re gone!” There are a multitude of educational programs from a secular point of view but very few scriptural ones. Below is a Resource List for materials on alcohol education/prevention for young people.
IF ANY READER KNOWS OF A RELIGIOUS BASED STUDY PROGRAM FOR YOUNG PEOPLE, PLEASE SEND US CONTACT INFORMATION!!!!!!
http://www.health.orgtakes you to the website of the National Clearinghouse For Alcohol and Drug Prevention. This is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) one-stop resource for hundreds of free resources. We’ve received: Four Ways to Include Drug Prevention in Your Religious Program; Alcohol, Tobacco, and other Drug Abuse: Challenges and Responses for Faith Leaders; Ready, Set, Listen! (for kids) plus videos aimed at teenagers, etc.
http://www.centurycouncil.org offers CD-ROM educational programs for schools, parents of teens ready for college etc.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) has a free booklet entitled Substance Abuse: A Handbook for Young People (Item #25793002) which can be ordered at http://www.pcusa.org
There’s a free four-chapter Bible Study Course on Drinking Alcoholic Beverages, published by Liberty Gospel Tracts, 11845 W Carson City Rd, Greenville MI 48838 or go to: http://www.libertygospeltracts.com
The following is from Christian Book at http://www.christian book.com
Teens-Alcohol & Tobacco Video
Retail Price: $19.95
(CBD Price $15.99 You save $3.96 (19%), CBD Stock Number: WW770028)
Description: There are over 18 million problem drinkers in the US. Many of them are students. Increasing numbers of students are taking up smoking and many are getting cancer from smokeless tobacco. Nearly all of us have been touched by human tragedies caused by alcohol & tobacco. In this fast-paced and lively video, students speak for themselves on alcohol and tobacco. Student friendly hosts point out the grim facts about alcohol and tobacco and briefly address five biblical principles to help students commit themselves to an alcohol and tobacco free lifestyle.
I FIRMLY BELIEVE THAT TRUST IN JESUS CHRIST & LIVING FOR HIM IS THE BEST ANSWER TO THIS PROBLEM. I HAVE SEEN MANY ALCOHOLICS AND FEW DRUG ADDICTS GET CONVERTED AND CHANGE THEIR ENTIRE LIVES.
IN CHRIST A FOUNDATION OF SOLID FAITH