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Perspective: America has a troubling and contradictory relationship with alcohol

Susan Stephens

“To alcohol, the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.”

Perhaps no one has said it better than Homer Simpson did in 1997. And, for me, as a longtime student of media and American society, that comment accurately distills one of our country’s inherent contradictions -– its relationship with alcohol.

A few facts to swallow:

The alcohol industry will spend nearly $7 BILLION in US advertising this year making sure we turn to alcohol to solve those problems. Indeed, when was the last time you went a day WITHOUT seeing, hearing or reading an ad for alcohol?

And we respond with gusto -– spending about $250 BILLION annually consuming adult beverages.

And then, all that consumption to help us solve those problems becomes its own problem, costing the US economy more than $250 BILLION annually in lost productivity, treatment and rehabilitation.

Where does that leave us? Trapped in a vicious cycle -– one that has baffled me over the years as I’ve seen the impact of alcohol on family, friends and in my own life. Think about your own relationship with alcohol -– when did it start? Do you manage it or does it manage you?

Don’t get me wrong -– I’m not a judge in this trial. I’m an observer, continually fascinated and flummoxed by alcohol’s impact and influence on American society.

Julian Lennon once sang that “We’re really not so clever as we seem to think we are. We’ve always got our troubles so we solve them in the bar.”

Well, Americans have a LOT of troubles and we’re spending a LOT of time in the bar. And, I don’t know how well that’s going to end. Or if it ever will.

So, cheers to that. Or maybe not.

I’m Wester Wuori and that’s my sobering Perspective.