I could have been an alcoholic as a child. Growing up, I always had access to alcohol. My grandparents had a bar in their basement. I saw imported liquor in cases daily and at family functions even witnessed some family members get drunk. I never realized how easy it would have been to drink at a young age. I thank God my fear of the unknown kept me away from temptation. As I get older, I realize the cost I would have had to pay and that it would have destroyed my future. Did you know that, according to the Coalition for the Prevention of Alcohol Problems, “an estimated 3 million teenagers are full blown alcoholics, and several million more have a serious drinking problem”? Most people know that drinking under the age of 21 is illegal, but did you know excessive drinking, especially in minors can lead to death? Excessive drinking not only has severe physical affects, but also threatens one’s integrity to live life as God intended. John Paul II stated, “The deepest element of God’s commandment to protect human life is the requirement to show reverence and love for every person and the life of every person” (p 72 The Gospel of Life).So how does alcohol fit into loving yourself? Excessive drinking not only compromises one’s state of mind and rationality, but also threatens our human dignity.
We are all made by and for God. However, it seems our culture today has lost track of this fact. Peer pressure is defined by Webster’s dictionary as, the “social influence a peer group exerts on its individual members, as each member attempts to conform to the expectations of the group.” In succumbing to peer pressure in ways such as excessive drinking, we not only lose our integrity, but also distort God’s plans for us. In trying to abstain from alcohol abuse or other forms of drug abuse, remember John Paul II’s words “Life is indelibly marked by a truth of its own. By accepting God’s gift, man is obliged to maintain life in this truth which is essential to it”(p 84 The Gospel of Life). God wants you to value your life and find eternal life in him. Stand strong in times of temptation and remember you are a child of God and every life, including your own, MATTERS!