It’s very rare that I’m motivated to write a follow up column, but the dangers generated by alcohol’s sacred position in our society demands more attention. Nothing is better to use as comparison than the uproar about the private ownership of guns and the dangers of both.
To quote that Jan. 20 column:
“Did you know Arizona ranks at the top nationally in regards to youth drinking (U.S. Center for Disease Control, June 8, 2012)? Arizona high schools surveyed rank No. 1 ‘for alcohol use and binge drinking’ and No. 2 ‘for cocaine use and drinking alcohol on school property.’
“We yip and carry on about gun dangers, yet right in our own homes are the roots of not only death, some of them slow and torturous, but also the collapse of marriages, endless lost jobs and more sorrows than can be recounted in one little column.”
In response, I heard from retired Mesa Police officer Jim Boubelik who witnessed the issues I spoke about. His words carry far more weight than mine:
“The thing that frustrates me, as I heard you talk about in your article, is all the hype on gun control. So many people are up in arms about taking away guns or restricting certain types of guns but that isn’t going to make a difference. Yet according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2010, one person died every 51 minutes in an alcohol related collision in our nation! This is crazy, but yet we are head over heels to ban guns.”
Boubelik knows something about this problem. He spent 12 years in the traffic unit and seven on the DUI squad. He was involved in more than 3,000 DUI cases.
Boubelik confirms that alcohol, a depressant, is a primary “gateway” into drug use. He talks about “chasing the dragon”: Users find the same dose eventually disappoints, thus the chase for the “high” pushes them down into the dark spaces of the next drug.
Alcohol: The door to emotional, spiritual and physical death; a social war against generations. To bring perspective into focus, compare it to gun deaths: The CDC reports for every gun related death, there are ten alcohol related deaths. Yeah. Let’s go after the guns; protect our social addiction.
How deadly is the stuff in your family room bars? Boubelik knows: “I had one case back many years ago of a 18 year old kid that was drunk and hit a pedestrian as he crossed the street. The kid was so intoxicated he didn’t even remember stopping his car and pulling the man’s dead body out of the front window of his car and then driving off.”
Boubelik, whose passion against alcohol has not receded with retirement, urges parents to educate themselves and then educate their children about the dangers of alcohol and drugs.”
And, don’t forget role modeling. Don’t use the stuff. Treat it like the poison it is.
“After being a cop and experiencing everything that I did in my career,” Boubelik says, “I am much more afraid of that DUI driver sitting behind the wheel of a 3,000-pound guided missile than I ever was with guns. I have tons of stories about close calls with DUI offenders than I do with incidents that involved guns.”
There you have it folks. It’d be a wonderful world if there were no killing machines of any type, but humans have proven, we’ll still find a way to do ourselves and others in. Shall we really get serious about saving our children?
East Valley resident Linda Turley-Hansen (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a syndicated columnist and former Phoenix veteran TV anchor.