Feature

The drug problem we ignore

In our “censorious’’ public discussions about substance abuse, drinking often gets a pass, said Frank Bruni at The New York Times.

Frank BruniThe New York Times

Everyone knows that Whitney Houston was a drug addict, said Frank Bruni. She freely admitted that on several occasions, and went into rehab more than once. But she continued to drink—heavily at times. And while the cause of her death remains to be determined, it appears that alcohol played a role: She was reportedly drinking and taking prescription pills in the hours before she was discovered lifeless in a bathtub. In our “censorious’’ public discussions about substance abuse, drinking often gets a pass. That’s because it’s legal, safe in moderation, and widely enjoyed as a sociable pastime. But alcohol abuse kills far more people than “powders, capsules, and vials.” About a third of the U.S. adult population is either addicted to alcohol or binge drinks dangerously. Booze “seeds and squires a broad range of diseases,’’ from cirrhosis to various forms of cancer, and contributes to tens of thousands of deaths from shootings, falls, and drunk driving. I’m not suggesting we bring back Prohibition—but if we’re going to discuss America’s drug problem with any honesty, then we shouldn’t “edit drinking out of the picture.”

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