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News From the Front

We are all alcoholics.

I am not saying this in the same tones as “We are all Columbine,”  “We are all Haiti” and all those other ridiculous statements made by those who, perhaps because they don’t have sufficient tragedy in their own lives, attempt to vampirically co-opt the suffering of those who have recently been dealt too much. No, I am referring to the American Psychiatric Association’s recent guidelines about what defines an alcoholic. They have, to paraphrase Mr. Churchill, “broadened the seas to fit more rowboats.” For example, if you are a college student who binges (drinks one drink an hour for five straight hours) once a month, you are an alcoholic. An addict. And you probably thought you were just having a few beers at the game, but there it is.

I’m certain the real serious drinkers, those who perhaps binge twice or even three times a month, will experience a slight twinge of irritation at seeing all these new pledges (if the study is adhered to, our ranks will swell by 60%) being awarded that hard title so easily. It’s as if the Army’s Airborne school suddenly removed the requirement of jumping out of airplanes and started awarding jump wings for sticking your head out a window that is at least five stories off the ground.

At the same time, it’s good to know the tribe is growing and quickly. Probably not all of the new arrivals will want to actually be identified as alcoholics, at least not in certain company, but they’ll come around. And once the APA lowers the standards to the point that a quarter of the population are alcoholics (and they will), we will become a powerful voting bloc. Soon there will be whiskey coolers in every office, and January 1st will be National Hangover Day, a federal holiday.

Of course, broadening the power of the Alcoholic Party is not the APA’s intention. Quite the opposite. Their intention, and I am one-hundred percent sure of this, is to shame moderate drinkers into not drinking at all. Why? Because (come through the looking glass with me) the APA is nothing more than a front group for Big Pharma, the makers of those expensive psychoactive pills with harrowing side-effects half the population seems to be addicted to. But half is not good enough, and they will not get a crack at the other half until that uncooperative element stops self-medicating with the booze. It’s no coincidence that The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the biggest bankroller of neo-prohibitionist groups, was created by (and named for) one of the high priests of Big Pharma.

Another unintended consequence of lowering the standards is this: when someone who is plainly not an alcoholic becomes defined as an alcoholic, it forces the victim industry to come up with new terminology to describe those of us who “binge” so often that “binge” stops being the right word. If you’re going to start calling house cats tigers, then you’re going to be forced to start calling tigers something like Super Tigerasaurus Rex. In our case, they’ll have to start calling we drunks  supremaholics or  totallyinsaneaholics. Or perhaps an old word will be dug up and put back to use. Like drunkard.

So if you suddenly find yourself standing within the velvet ropes of alcoholism, let me be the first to welcome you to the party. It’s a helluva club, I think you’re going to dig it. You should also be aware we have this long-standing tradition about the new guy buying the drinks.

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Frank Kelly Rich

Editor/Publisher of Modern Drunkard Magazine.