The most destructive drug in general use today is the one whose massively harmful effects are least noticed.

“You can worry all you want about any future addiction to narcotics among our population,” says one survey, “yet it will never be more than a small fraction of the problem we already have with addiction to alcohol.”

Government officials call alcoholism the nation’s number-one health problem, and it is getting worse. Researchers at George Washington University say there now may be as many as nine million persons in America who are alcoholics (nearly one in twenty!), and many millions more on the verge of a serious drinking problem. The World Health Organization says the United States has the highest rate of alcoholism in the world. American industry alone loses an estimated $2 billion a year from the effects of alcohol; the cost of crime spawned by alcohol undoubtedly eclipses that figure.

The most appalling effect is the great loss of innocent life. Alcohol is a causal factor in some 25,000 traffic deaths and 200,000 injuries each year. Forty-four per cent of all drivers at fault in two-car accidents are legally drunk, says the Utica Mutual Insurance Company. One driver out of every fifty, according to a recent U. S. Department of Transportation study, is drunk.

The saddest part of the problem is that virtually nothing is being done about it. Hardly anyone seems to care. Why?

The notoriety of prohibition threw temperance forces into a tailspin, and they have been reeling ever since. After repeal, alcoholic beverages took on an attractively naughty kind of respectability. The industry spends nearly $200 million a year on advertising to add glamor to the image.

An increasing number of Christians, most of whom don’t ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.