Alcohol Is Not The Answer

“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:12

I’ll be honest. I’ve tried to commit suicide…

Now, before you start dialing 911, let me explain. It has been over 28 years since my last attempt. That’s right. I was 18 at the time. And although it has been almost 30 years since that season of my life, the pain and hurt of those days is still quite clear in my mind. I still remember the discouragement and sense of overwhelming despair. Everything seemed so hopeless… so pointless. At the time I could not see beyond my own addiction. Alcohol controlled my life. It dominated me. It defined me. And, had it not been for the grace of God, it would have ultimately destroyed me.

By the end of my senior year in high school I was out of control. In the same brief 2 week span I had managed to both lose my job and get expelled from school. To make matters worse my parents seemed totally indifferent to my behavior. (I don’t blame them. I understand now that in hindsight they no longer knew how to handle me or my addiction). I looked at my father and I saw a man who had spent my entire life as a functioning alcohol. Unless he was at work he was drinking. Looking at him, I envisioned myself following down that same path. Looking in the mirror, I felt only shame and disappointment. Looking to the future, I saw nothing. I could not imagine a world without my addiction or the painful consequences that continually followed my repeated failings. And so, I did the only thing I knew to do. I drank even more heavily.

If any of you have any past experience with alcohol abuse, than you know very well the vicious cycle that had begun in my life. Despair led to more drinking. The more I drank, the greater the despair. And on and on and on it went. In time the depression finally manifested in a number of attempts to take my own life. It was certainly not the high point of my life. (I recently turned 45 and the scars are still visible on my wrist.) Alcohol almost proved to be my undoing. Fortunately, an encounter with the Person of Jesus Christ not only freed me from the bondage of alcohol but also, and perhaps more importantly, liberated me from the depression and other emotional needs that had driven the addiction in the first place. For me, grace was forgiveness… grace was freedom… and grace was the hope for a better future.

Now, I share all of that so that you will more clearly understand my own perspective on the issue of alcohol as it relates to personal suffering. All that I have experienced both with regard to my own struggles as well as almost 2 decades of ministry have convinced me that the combination of alcohol and emotional pain is nothing other than a recipe for disaster. So often we just want to numb the pain, to mute the voices of despair and discouragement, and to temporarily disarm the guilt and frustrations. Unfortunately, it is just that… alcohol is a temporary reprieve that only serves to exacerbate the real problems. In those brief moments of sobriety we realize that the issues and situations are still there. The alcohol is powerless to either solve or silence them.

I want to remind all of us today that the answers to the real problems of life will never be found in escape (particularly the escape that addiction so falsely promises). No matter the behavior or habit it will never satisfy the real issues that the struggle so desperately seeks to mask. Alcohol will never ease the pain. Overeating will never heal the hurt. Porn will never fulfill the longing. Drugs will never make you forget the past. At some point the “high” wears thin and in the aftermath we find ourselves only that much more empty and hungry. I’m sorry but I’m just trying to be honest. I am not trying to minimize your pain or suffering. But you need to know that whatever your current struggle, alcohol is not the answer. Never has been. And no matter how much you drink, it never will be.