Alcohol: Healthful Beverage Or Addictive Drug?

Louis Pasteur proclaimed that wine is the most healthful and hygienic of all beverages. Wine is an integral component of one of the most healthful and scientifically documented diets in the world – the traditional Mediterranean diet. It consists of seasonally fresh vegetables and fruits, grains, fish, olive oil, and red meat only once or twice per month and, of course, red wine. At that time, people in this region enjoyed long lives and have a heart disease rate 90-percent lower than that in the United States.

Alcohol thins the blood, making it less likely to form a clot that could block an artery, causing a heart attack or stroke. Red wine in particular also provides a chemical called resveratrol that has been shown in animal experiments to greatly increase lifespan. (Resveratrol is also found in grapes and is available as a dietary supplement.)

This (in addition to its obvious role as a social lubricant) makes alcohol very appealing. But as we know, there is a dark side. Not everyone is able to practice moderation, which is one drink per day for women, and two for men – preferably with food. For various physiological and psychological reasons, alcohol can be a deadly, addictive drug. It’s caused much grief and ended the careers of many artists like John Bonham, Bon Scott, and Keith Moon.

Just because you’ve abstained all week doesn’t mean you can binge on the weekend. Alcohol binging interferes with coordination, takes its toll on your liver, increases the risk of certain cancers, and puts you and others at risk when you go behind the wheel. I enjoy alcohol, but if I had to choose, I’d rather play with a sober musician than a drunk one.