By editorial board • 

Alcohol no less menace than meth, crack, opioids

As a nation, we have long recognized the dangers inherent in alcohol, tobacco, street drugs and prescription drugs. By turn, we have rallied to regulate, control or even eliminate their use, though progress has proven agonizingly slow.

In recent years, we have focused perhaps most intently on methamphetamine, crack cocaine, heroin and prescription opioids, all capable of ravaging lives, families and neighborhoods to devastating effect. But lest we forget the horrors alcohol is capable of fostering, consider two of the top stories from Tuesday’s front page.

Clely Arely Flores-Ramirez allegedly downed seven or eight double shots of rum — probably enough to kill most people — before dozing off beside her 3-month-old daughter. At some point during the night, she allegedly shook the child with enough violence, anger and duration to inflict lethal brain damage.

Flores is only 31, but has already amassed a lengthy record of alcohol-related driving offenses. She was arrested for DUII and reckless driving in 2012, 2015 and 2017, driving while suspended in 2016 and 2017, and circumventing an interlock in 2017.

The 2017 charges, stemming from a November traffic stop, are still awaiting adjudication. Now she’s also facing felony charges of manslaughter and criminal mistreatment, which could land her a long stretch in prison.

Police discovered Kathleen Margaret Norman in such a drunken state, they had her transported to the hospital.

A check showed she had an outstanding failure to appear warrant stemming from a Dec. 12 DUII and reckless driving case. So they later transferred her to the county jail, where she was booked into a medical unit.

The 57-year-old suffered some sort of medical emergency, described as a cardiac-like event, about 3:30 in the morning. Sadly, AED, CPR, Narcan and hospital emergency room treatment all failed to revive her.

Norman’s record also lists DUII arrests in 2012, 2015 and 2017. She qualified for diversion on the first, earned terms of license suspension and community service on the second, and was still awaiting adjudication on the third.

Alcohol abuse is by no means a new problem, of course — not in the U.S. and most certainly not in the world, where civilizations greatly pre-date ours. Archaeological evidence shows the Chinese began fermenting grains, grapes and berries to produce forms of beer and wine at least 70 centuries before the birth of Christ.

Early production and consumption have been documented among ancient civilizations stretching back 40 to 50 centuries. It began as medicinal and ceremonial, but soon expanded into social and recreational.

But neither alcohol’s ancient lineage nor the rising prevalence of other drugs gives us grounds for relaxing our guard.

According to the National Safety Council, 37,814 deaths were caused by opioid overdoses in 2016.

Compare that to the most recent data presented by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence: 88,000 deaths are annually attributed to excessive alcohol use; and, up to 40 percent of all U.S. hospital beds (except for maternity and intensive care) are used to treat health conditions that are related to alcohol consumption.

Alcohol may be the most accepted drug because of the popular craft beer, wine and distilled spirits markets, but its abuse is as catastrophic a public health issue as any.



The population of the US is 323.1 million. 88,000.00 deaths attributed to alcohol abuse is truly small when total population is considered. Drinking is a choice and many drink safely. There are 900,000. hospital beds in the US as of 2015. 40 percent of 900,000 is 360.000. While that is a large number, compared to the total US population, I don't see it as a "catastrophic public health issue."


Alcohol is the gateway drug.


Hmmm. I’d say caffeine and nicotine are the true gateway drugs.

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