The Ravages of Alcohol

It’s occurring to me that aside from numbing me to the world, I can’t think of much good to ever come from alcohol. Millions of people in this country drink down paychecks to release and escape shitty jobs, shitty homes, shitty lives. Alcohol is one of the few forms of altered consciousness we are allowed, along with sugar, caffeine and nicotine, though it only enhances the pains we feel, drawing us deeper into our depressions, taking more aggressive bites into our finances, and leaving us the following morning confused and in a worse state than the day before. Aside from pseudo-courage and its penchant for making the ugly sometimes beautiful, I’ve seen little good come from this drug called alcohol. And though side effects tend to reach far beyond the physical symptoms of liver failure and heart disease, to addiction and destruction, though it breeds violence and has killed more Americans than the Vietnam War, this is our most popular social drug.
I’ve been drunk. I’ve been drunk many times. And maybe it’s me, but I can scarcely remember a time when I’ve felt inspired, moved, or enlightened. When I’ve been drunk, I’ve been drunk, nothing more; nothing less. And this is the highest level of chemical frenzy we’re allowed. But I’ve also been higher than the limits of our laws, have reached greater plateaus than the FDA recommends, without the benefit of fermentation or chemist’s concoctions. Dennis Miller once said that humans need to do drugs, in one form or another, and that even if there were none around, a man will spin around on his front lawn until he sees God. If it’s true that we must seek altered consciousness through chemicals, I have to say that I’ll risk lung cancer and jail before agreeing that alcohol is the way to go.

This is an excerpt of The Rucksack Letters by Steve McAllister. Buy your copy of the eBook on


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