“The premier now knows, or has been reminded, that misery is real and can and does happen to anyone. No matter how hard you work, how smart you are, how right you think, bad things happen”, writes Paul Sullivan, a columnist with the Globe and Mail and a reformed alcoholic for 21 years.

By the time this column appears, Gordon Campbell may still be premier of British Columbia. But almost every Canadian now knows who he is and what he did.

Was it a momentary lapse of judgment while under the influence of alcohol? Or an act of irresponsibility (while under the influence of alcohol) which could have endangered his and other people’s lives?

Let us briefly remind ourselves of the good, the bad and the ugly side of alcohol.

What is good about alcohol?

-Alcohol reduces sickness and death from coronary artery disease
-Makes the blood thinner
-Reduces the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia

What is bad about alcohol?

-Alcohol causes fetal alcohol syndrome in the new born
-Causes cirrhosis of liver, liver failure and pancreatitis
-Causes gastritis and bleeding
-Causes cancer of the esophagus, breast and other cancers
-And is very heavy in useless calories

What is ugly about alcohol?

-Alcoholism is considered a disease
-It is a compulsive addictive behavior
-It is a drug with complex behavioral effects
-It causes traffic or work related accidents
-It is a major cause of death and disability
-It destroys a person’s personal life, family life and capacity to earn a decent living

The good side of alcohol is sometimes abused by individuals who get addicted to it. Therefore physicians are reluctant to encourage or promote alcohol as a panacea for major health problems.

Critics of alcohol use say that much of the protective effect gained from alcohol use in coronary artery disease can be achieved by other means – exercise, diet, avoiding smoking, and control of cholesterol level.

What is moderate drinking? Is it one, two, or three drinks a day? It depends on how much you are used to drinking. Moderation for a non-drinker is different than for a habitual drinker.

What is alcoholism?

The term alcoholism first appeared in 1849 in an assay written by a Swedish physician, Magnus Huss, titled “Alcoholism Chronicus”.

Alcoholism means excessive and repeated use of alcoholic beverages. Ten percent of the population is dependent on alcohol.

“Alcohol is like love: the first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine. After that you just take the girl’s clothes off” – Raymond Chandler (1888-1959).

So, let us be smart and say, “No driving after more than two drinks of alcohol!”

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