Alcoholism in the 21st Century The dictionary describes alcoholism as continued excessive or compulsive use of alcoholic drinks. However, this disease is much more complex. Alcohol abuse is a growing problem in the United States today, causing more and more deaths each year. It affects nearly everyone in the U.S. today, either directly or indirectly. Over half of Americans have at least one close relative that has a drinking problem. About 20 million people in the United States abuse alcohol. It is the third leading cause of preventable deaths, and about 100,000 people die each year from alcohol related incidents (Peacock 11). Alcohol is not a new invention of modern societies. It has been around through many different ancient cultures, wine being the most prominent substance. Some cultures viewed alcohol consumption as good, while others perceived it good only in moderation. For example, the Greek god Bacchus was known for his excessive drinking while the Roman god Dionysus was known for teaching moderation in drinking (Peacock 20-21). Alcoholism was also learned to have existed in history. Interpreted writings on the tomb of an Egyptian king who lived over 5,000 years ago read, "His earthly abode was rent and shattered by wine and beer. And the spirit escaped before it was called for." This shows that he died from alcohol related causes. However, most cultures began to limit alcohol use when they learned how to efficiently produce the beverage. Babylonian king Hammurabi and Chinese emperor Chung K 'iang executed violators of their laws concerning alcohol (Peacock 20). Even in the Bible, refrain from alcohol is stressed. "
will inherit the kingdom of God" (Alcohol and the Bible). The United States was not immune to strict laws opposing alcohol. In 1919, the 18th Amendment was passed, limiting alcohol use. This period lasted for 14 years and became known as the Prohibition (Peacock 28). Ancient and modern literatures show
Cited: Selected Poetry of Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849). 29 April 2001.
World Literature Third Edition. United States: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 2001.