THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Lianne Castelino Headshot

The Message In A Bottle Needs To Change

Posted: Updated:
WINE AND BEER
Tetra Images - Jamie Grill via Getty Images
Print

This affects all of us. And we should be afraid. Very afraid.

This past long weekend, the number of drivers on Ontario roadways charged with impaired driving by provincial police was almost DOUBLE that of 2015. The numbers are sobering. 180 vs. 94.

It may not seem that dramatic but just think about it. Every one of those 180 people charged could have been responsible for the death of one or more, which could have affected the families of many others, and entire communities of multitudes. We should all shudder just to think about it.

We tend to shudder, but only in the aftermath of an avoidable, preventable, senseless death or deaths caused by the selfish, mindless, irreversible decision individuals make when they decide to drink more alcohol than the legal limit allows and then operate a motor vehicle.

Jennifer Neville-Lake and her husband Ed are living it. We were shaken, stunned and horrified to read how drunk driving stole the life of their three young children and maternal grandfather ---- on a sunny day, on a country road, north of Toronto, this past September.

"Choices are actions that have consequences," said Neville-Lake so succinctly. Those six simple but searing words came after a judge sentenced Marco Muzzo to 10 years in jail in May 2016, for killing the three, young Neville-Lake children and their grandfather -- because Muzzo chose to drive drunk.

Muzzo decided to turn the key in the ignition of his SUV and press the accelerator with too much alcohol in his system.

One bad decision. Dozens of lives shattered.

Reasonable alcohol consumption is possible without reckless disregard for human life.

Society's general treatment of alcohol continues to confound me. Likely much more than the average person, and for several reasons:

1. I don't drink. It doesn't agree with me. I get pounding headaches. End of story.
2. I have absolutely never understood the relevance or rationale involved in willingly wanting to compromise one's 'normal faculties' through alcohol -- to the point of altering behaviour, loss of memory or becoming ill as a result of drinking in excess.
3. Hard as I've tried, I just cannot equate 'having a good time' with losing control. I don't get it.

Furthermore, my 'seemingly' extremist views about alcohol have been heavily influenced by:

1. Witnessing many intelligent, talented people over the years turn into raging lunatics, complete idiots, irrational fools, or worse, dangerous freaks ---- all at the hands of alcohol.
2. Meeting people whose families have been devastated by alcohol addiction.
3. Interviewing women abused at the hands of their alcoholic husbands.
4. Interviewing a parent who has lost a child to a drunk driver.
5. Sitting down with women in a shelter who quiver as they describe fleeing an alcohol-addicted spouse.
6. The very reason for the creation of an organization called Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) says everything.
7. Currently being the mother of one and a half drivers in my own house --- two teenage sons.
8. Reading many stories of children recounting as adults the influence that growing up with an alcohol-dependent parent had on them, the fear it instilled during their childhood and beyond.
9. Being a driver on a highway myself, watching a driver two lanes over swerve and sway from one lane to the next, clearly under the influence -- likely of alcohol. It scared the $(%*#( out of me, as other cars whipped by unknowingly or tried to avoid the culprit car.
10. Arriving at the scene of many fresh accidents (as a TV reporter), with crumpled metal, engine smoke wafting from shredded car parts, strewn for several metres ---- following a fatal or non-fatal crash in which alcohol was believed to be the cause.

Believe me when I tell you, that sight, those smells and the sound of the injured, the family members and witnesses NEVER EVER leave you.

Binge drinking has and continues to be a cause of concern in high schools and universities across Canada and the United States.

Parents who exhibit an irresponsible attitude about drinking in front of their own children - think about the possible consequences at that moment and later.

I'm not saying having a drink should be a punishable offence. I am saying that as a society and as individuals, we tend to be rather cavalier about our general attitude towards alcohol.

For inexplicable reasons, we happily continue to allow alcohol advertising -- across various platforms -- depicting perfect-looking people having a perfect-looking time. Yes, these ads have been reduced over the years, but they still exist. They still paint a picture, and relate a state of being that adults and children may equate with some kind of reality.

And yet, we joke about 'needing a glass of wine after the day I've had' or 'grabbing a couple of pops after work' or whatever other euphemism exists to downplay what could for some, be a potentially deadly decision.

I'm not saying having a drink should be a punishable offence. I am saying that as a society and as individuals, we tend to be rather cavalier about our general attitude towards alcohol. Nonchalant about the powerful impact it can have on one's faculties, decision-making and motor skills, among other things.

(By the way I am not equating social drinking with the disease of alcoholism. However, a strong argument can be made that lack of self-control in the former can fuel the onset of the latter).

It is a scary attitude, quite frankly, supported by realities like 180 people choosing to drive impaired last weekend. And the many others who likely do the same daily, and don't get caught, and the many others who do get caught because they just murdered someone on the road. BECAUSE OF ALCOHOL.

Like just about everything else in life, just a sliver of self-awareness, self-control, and common sense would go a long way to perhaps shifting cavalier to conscious or conscientious decision-making when it comes to drinking.

Is that 'one too many' really worth it?

If you want to forget your troubles, get sloshed, drown your sorrows, set a world record -- for goodness sake do it in your own home and stay there.

Fun is possible without fear or fatalities.

Reasonable alcohol consumption is possible without reckless disregard for human life.

Putting reason 'on the rocks' is precisely why the lives of Jennifer Neville-Lake, Ed Lake and Marco Muzzo are tantamount to a living hell.

Is that 'one too many' really worth it?

Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook