Alcohol and Alcoholism: Poisoning, Effects, Abuse, Consequences, Facts

What is Alcohol?

An alcoholic beverage is a drink containing ethanol, commonly known as alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are divided into three general classes: beers, wines, and spirits. They are legally consumed in most countries, and over 100 countries have laws regulating their production, sale, and consumption. In particular, such laws specify the minimum age at which a person may "legally" buy or drink them. This minimum age varies between 16 and 25 years, depending upon the country and the type of drink. Most nations set it at 18 years of age.

The production and consumption of alcohol occurs in most cultures of the world, from hunter-gatherer peoples to nation-states. Alcoholic beverages are often an important part of social events in these cultures. Alcohol can be addictive and addiction to alcohol is known as alcoholism.

What is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is a chronic disorder or so-called disease in which your body becomes dependent on alcohol. When you have alcoholism, you lose control over your drinking. You may not be able to control when you drink, how much you drink, or how long you drink on each occasion. If you have alcoholism, you continue to drink even though you know it's causing problems with your relationships, health, work or finances. People suffering from alcoholism are often called "alcoholics". The World Health Organization estimates that there are 140 million people with alcoholism worldwide.

It's possible to have a problem with alcohol but not have all the symptoms of alcoholism. This is known as "alcohol abuse," which means you drink too much and it causes problems in your life although you aren't completely dependent on alcohol. If you have alcoholism or you abuse alcohol, you may not be able to cut back or quit without help. A number of approaches are available to help you recover from alcoholism, including prayer, medications, counseling and self-help groups.

Long-term Consequences of Alcohol Abuse

Like any drug (see Drugs and Drug Abuse), alcohol will affect different people in different ways. The long-term effects of alcohol therefore vary from person to person and there is no way of knowing exactly how the drug will affect an individual in the long-term.

Everyday people are putting themselves at risk of alcohol-related harm in the long-term through alcohol misuse, binge drinking and drink driving. Excessive drinking and drinking long-term can increase the health risks of alcohol, such as damage to the liver, heart or pancreas. Damage to some body organs can be permanent.

Drinking a lot of alcohol regularly over time is likely to cause physical, emotional or social problems. These may include:

  • Cirrhosis of the liver

  • Cancer, especially of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, bowel (in men) and breast (in women)

  • A range of diseases affecting the heart and blood, and including stroke and hypertension

  • Problems with the nerves of the arms and legs

  • Alcohol-related brain injury

  • Alcohol dependence

  • Harm to the unborn baby through mixing alcohol and pregnancy or alcohol and breastfeeding

  • Poor diet

  • Stomach problems

  • Frequent infections

  • Skin problems

  • Reproduction issues, such as sexual impotence and a reduction in fertility

  • Concentration and term memory problems

  • Depression

  • Family and relationship problems

  • Poor work performance

  • Legal and financial difficulties

Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse Facts

  • Alcohol abuse is a disorder that is characterized by the sufferer having a pattern of drinking excessively despite the negative effects of alcohol on the individual's work, medical, legal, educational, and/or social life.

  • Alcohol abuse affects about 10% of women and 20% of men in the United States, most beginning by their mid teens.

  • Signs of alcohol intoxication include the smell of alcohol on the breath or skin, glazed or bloodshot eyes, the person being unusually passive or argumentative, and/or a deterioration in the person's appearance or hygiene.

  • Almost 2,000 people under 21 years of age die each year in car crashes in which underage drinking is involved. Alcohol is involved in nearly half of all violent deaths involving teens.

  • Alcoholism is a destructive pattern of alcohol use that includes a number of symptoms, including tolerance to or withdrawal from the substance, using more alcohol and/or for a longer time than planned, and trouble reducing its use.

  • Alcohol, especially when consumed in excess, can affect teens, women, men, and the elderly quite differently.

  • Risk factors for developing a drinking problem include low self-esteem, depression, anxiety or another mood problem, as well as having parents with alcoholism.

  • There are thought to be five stages of alcoholism.

  • There are numerous individual treatments for alcoholism, including individual and group counseling, support groups, residential treatment, prayer and spiritual help, medications, drug testing, and/or relapse-prevention programs.

  • Some signs of a drinking problem include drinking alone, to escape problems, or for the sole purpose of getting drunk; hiding alcohol in odd places; getting irritated when you are unable to obtain alcohol to drink; and having problems because of your drinking.

  • While some people with alcohol dependence can cut back or stop drinking without help, most are only able to do so temporarily unless they get treatment.

  • There is no amount of alcohol intake that has been proven to be generally safe during pregnancy.

  • The long-term effects of alcohol abuse and alcoholism can be devastating and even life threatening, negatively affecting virtually every organ system.

  • Codependency is the tendency to interact with another person in an excessively passive or caretaking manner that negatively affects the quality of the codependent individual's life.

  • Adequate supervision and clear communication by parents about the negative effects of alcohol and about parental expectations regarding alcohol and other drug use can significantly decrease alcohol use in teens.

  • With treatment, about 70% of people with alcoholism are able to decrease the number of days they consume alcohol and improve their overall health status within six months.

The Bible and Alcohol

Scripture has much to say regarding the drinking of alcohol (Leviticus 10:9; Numbers 6:3; Deuteronomy 29:6; Judges 13:4, 7, 14; Proverbs 20:1; 31:4; Isaiah 5:11, 22; 24:9; 28:7; 29:9; 56:12). However, Scripture does not necessarily forbid a person from drinking beer, wine, or any other drink containing alcohol. In fact, some Scriptures discuss alcohol in positive terms. Ecclesiastes 9:7 instructs, "Drink your wine with a merry heart." Psalm 104:14-15 states that God gives wine "that makes glad the heart of men." Amos 9:14 discusses drinking wine from your own vineyard as a sign of God's blessing. Isaiah 55:1 encourages, "Yes, come buy wine and milk…"

What God commands all people regarding alcohol is to avoid drunkenness (Ephesians 5:18). The Bible condemns drunkenness and its effects (Proverbs 23:29-35). All people, and especially Christians, are also commanded to not allow their bodies to be "mastered" by anything (1 Corinthians 6:12; 2 Peter 2:19). Drinking alcohol in excess is undeniably addictive and unhealthy. Scripture also forbids a Christian from doing anything that might cause scandal to another believer or encourage them to sin against their conscience: "Wherefore, if meat scandalize my brother, I will never eat flesh, lest I should scandalize my brother" (1 Corinthians 8:9-13). In light of these principles, it would be extremely difficult for any believer to say he is drinking alcohol in excess to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Jesus changed water into wine. Even Jesus drank wine on occasion (John 2:1-11; Matthew 26:29). In New Testament times, the water was not very clean. Without modern sanitation, the water was often filled with bacteria, viruses, and all kinds of contaminants. The same is true in many third-world countries today. As a result, people often drank wine (or grape juice) because it was far less likely to be contaminated. In 1 Timothy 5:23, Paul was instructing Timothy to stop drinking the water (which was probably causing his stomach problems) and instead drink wine. In that day, wine was fermented (containing alcohol), but not necessarily to the degree it is today. It is incorrect to say that it was grape juice, but it is also incorrect to say that it was the same thing as the wine commonly used today. Again, Scripture does not forbid anyone from drinking beer, wine, or any other drink containing alcohol. Alcohol is not, in and of itself, tainted by sin. It is drunkenness and addiction to alcohol that all people must absolutely refrain from (Ephesians 5:18; 1 Corinthians 6:12).

Is Alcoholism and Drunkenness a Mortal Sin?

Drunkenness is definitely a mortal sin. There are about three places where St. Paul gives a list of some of the main mortal sins which exclude people from Heaven. These lists do not comprise every mortal sin, of course, but some of the main ones.

Galatians 5:19-21: "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects, envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God."

1 Corinthians 6:9-11: "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."

Ephesians 5:5-8: "For this ye know, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of unbelief. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:"

Haydock Bible Commentary explains Ephesians 5:3-5:

"Ver. 3. Covetousness. The Latin word is generally taken for a coveting or immoderate desire of money and riches. St. Jerome and others observe, that the Greek word in this and divers other places in the New Testament may signify any unsatiable desire, or the lusts of sensual pleasures [i.e., drunkenness]; and on this account, St. Jerome thinks that it is here joined with fornication and uncleanness [i.e., sexual sins]. --- Ver. 5. Nor covetous person, which is a serving of idols. It is clear enough by the Greek that the covetous man is called an idolater, whose idol is mammon; though it may be also said of other sinners, that the vices they are addicted to are their idols. (Witham)"

Now, alcohol is not evil in and of itself, but the abuse of alcohol makes it serious (grave) matter, just as if we were to abuse something else that is good (e.g., eating too much). But, alcohol also has a second effect on us. It can cause us to lose control of our free will and reason when we drink to excess. And the fact that we loose our reason--or free will if you will--does not take away our responsibilities from the sins that are committed since this action of getting drunk (or high) was by our own choosing. Thus, it is possible to freely give away the gift of our freedom by abusing alcohol. If we ever freely choose to do this, it will be gravely immoral and a mortal sin. Thus, temperance (not too much or too little) is the virtue and goal we are aiming for.

The other problem with getting drunk is that, apart from being unhealthy, it can lead you to the occasion of other sins. St. Thomas Aquinas talks about it in the Summa Theologica. He says that if a man knowingly gets drunk, it is grave matter.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II:II, Q. 150, Art. 2, Whether drunkenness is a sin?: "I answer that, The sin of drunkenness, as stated in the foregoing Article, consists in the immoderate use and concupiscence of wine. Now this may happen to a man in three ways. First, so that he knows not the drink to be immoderate and intoxicating: and then drunkenness may be without sin, as stated above (Article 1). Secondly, so that he perceives the drink to be immoderate, but without knowing it to be intoxicating, and then drunkenness may involve a venial sin. Thirdly, it may happen that a man is well aware that the drink is immoderate and intoxicating, and yet he would rather be drunk than abstain from drink. Such a man is a drunkard properly speaking, because morals take their species not from things that occur accidentally and beside the intention, but from that which is directly intended. On this way drunkenness is a mortal sin, because then a man willingly and knowingly deprives himself of the use of reason, whereby he performs virtuous deeds and avoids sin, and thus he sins mortally by running the risk of falling into sin. For Ambrose says (De Patriarch. [De Abraham i.]): "We learn that we should shun drunkenness, which prevents us from avoiding grievous sins. For the things we avoid when sober, we unknowingly commit through drunkenness." Therefore drunkenness, properly speaking, is a mortal sin."

Thus, to give up the gift of free will or reason willingly is to sin gravely. "The drunken man is a living corpse" (St. John Chrysostom).

Overcoming Alcoholism

Men and women are given over to addictions and demonic oppression/possession for inundating themselves in mortal sin, especially sins of impurity – thereby worshipping the flesh rather than God – and for this they get possessed by the demon of oppression, which takes them over, weakens their will and corrupts them.

If an alcoholic ceases to commit all mortal sins and changes his or her life; if he or she holds the fullness of the Catholic Faith without compromise, which includes a profession of faith; if he or she makes a sincere confession of all mortal sins; if he or she has a strong prayer life and a true devotion to the Mother of God and the holy Rosary, then he or she will be delivered from alcoholism without any doubt. Our Lord tells us that: "And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). By knowing the truth and by employing the means to deliver themselves, alcoholics can and will be delivered from their alcoholism.

All who die in mortal sin will go to Hell forever. Mortal sins include pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed, sloth, hatred, murder, fornication (i.e. sexual acts outside of marriage or acts leading up to sex outside of marriage such as lustful kisses and touches), lying, drunkenness, drug abuse, consenting to impure thoughts, masturbation, looking at pornography, adultery, cheating, taking God's name in vain, birth control (NFP) or artificial contraception, sexual sins within marriage (i.e., anal or oral sex, for-or-after play, masturbation of self or spouse, striptease, dressing/talking sensual, and all other immoral acts performed for the sole sake of enhancing pleasure such as lewd kisses and touches), assisting the propagation of heresy, funding heretics, dishonoring the Sabbath, breaking the commandments, etc. If someone were to commit a mortal sin and then go to Confession, he must have the firm resolution never to commit the sin again. This is called the firm purpose of amendment. If a person commits a mortal sin and doesn't have the firm purpose of amendment when he goes to Confession, he commits a sacrilege and the Confession is invalid. Most souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh. Those who are committing sins of the flesh need to stop immediately if they don't want to perish forever in the fires of Hell.

Regarding the Holy Rosary, the real Sister Lucia told Father Fuentes in a famous 1957 interview:

"Look, Father, the Most Holy Virgin in these last times in which we live has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Holy Rosary. She has given this efficacy to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all, spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families, of the families of the world, or of the religious communities, or even of the life of peoples and nations that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary. With the Holy Rosary, we will save ourselves. We will sanctify ourselves. We will console Our Lord and obtain the salvation of many souls."

See: How to Pray the Rosary

If you are unsure about what you believe, we invite you to say the following prayer to God; "God, help me to know what is true. Help me to discern what is error. Help me to know what is the correct path to salvation." God will always honor such a prayer.

If you want to receive the faith and Jesus as your Savior, simply speak to God, verbally or silently, receive baptism (how to convert to the true Faith), obey His Church and His Law, and tell Him that you want to receive the free gift of salvation through Jesus, Our Lord and Savior. If you want a prayer to say, here is an example: "God, thank you for loving me. Thank you for sacrificing yourself for me. Thank you for providing for my forgiveness and salvation. I want to accept the gift of salvation through Jesus. I want to receive Jesus as my Savior. Amen!"

Further reading:

Spiritual Information You Must Know to be Saved

Biblical Information You Must Know to be Saved

Christian Dogma You Must Believe to be Saved

Baptism; the Steps to Convert to the Traditional Faith; the Steps for Those Leaving False Sects; and Conditional Baptism

Catholic View on Alcoholism and Drunkenness

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theoligica, Question 150

Article 1. Whether drunkenness is a sin?

Objection 1. It would seem that drunkenness is not a sin. For every sin has a corresponding contrary sin, thus timidity is opposed to daring, and presumption to pusillanimity. But no sin is opposed to drunkenness. Therefore drunkenness is not a sin.

Objection 2. Further, every sin is voluntary [Augustine, De Vera Relig. xiv]. But no man wishes to be drunk, since no man wishes to be deprived of the use of reason. Therefore drunkenness is not a sin.

Objection 3. Further, whoever causes another to sin, sins himself. Therefore, if drunkenness were a sin, it would follow that it is a sin to ask a man to drink that which makes him drunk, which would seem very hard.

Objection 4. Further, every sin calls for correction. But correction is not applied to drunkards: for Gregory [Cf. Canon Denique, dist. 4 where Gratian refers to a letter of St. Gregory to St. Augustine of Canterbury] says that "we must forbear with their ways, lest they become worse if they be compelled to give up the habit." Therefore drunkenness is not a sin.

On the contrary, The Apostle says (Romans 13:13): "Not in rioting and drunkenness."

I answer that, Drunkenness may be understood in two ways. First, it may signify the defect itself of a man resulting from his drinking much wine, the consequence being that he loses the use of reason. On this sense drunkenness denotes not a sin, but a penal defect resulting from a fault. Secondly, drunkenness may denote the act by which a man incurs this defect. This act may cause drunkenness in two ways. On one way, through the wine being too strong, without the drinker being cognizant of this: and in this way too, drunkenness may occur without sin, especially if it is not through his negligence, and thus we believe that Noah was made drunk as related in Genesis 9. On another way drunkenness may result from inordinate concupiscence and use of wine: in this way it is accounted a sin, and is comprised under gluttony as a species under its genus. For gluttony is divided into "surfeiting [Douay:,'rioting'] and drunkenness," which are forbidden by the Apostle (Romans 13:13).

Reply to Objection 1. As the Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 11), insensibility which is opposed to temperance "is not very common," so that like its species which are opposed to the species of intemperance it has no name. Hence the vice opposed to drunkenness is unnamed; and yet if a man were knowingly to abstain from wine to the extent of molesting nature grievously, he would not be free from sin.

Reply to Objection 2. This objection regards the resulting defect which is involuntary: whereas immoderate use of wine is voluntary, and it is in this that the sin consists.

Reply to Objection 3. Even as he that is drunk is excused if he knows not the strength of the wine, so too is he that invites another to drink excused from sin, if he be unaware that the drinker is the kind of person to be made drunk by the drink offered. But if ignorance be lacking neither is excused from sin.

Reply to Objection 4. Sometimes the correction of a sinner is to be foregone, as stated above (Question 33, Article 6). Hence Augustine says in a letter (Ad Aurel. Episc. Ep. xxii), "Meseems, such things are cured not by bitterness, severity, harshness, but by teaching rather than commanding, by advice rather than threats. Such is the course to be followed with the majority of sinners: few are they whose sins should be treated with severity."

Article 2. Whether drunkenness is a mortal sin?

Objection 1. It would seem that drunkenness is not a mortal sin. For Augustine says in a sermon on Purgatory [Serm. civ in the Appendix to St. Augustine's works] that "drunkenness if indulged in assiduously, is a mortal sin." Now assiduity denotes a circumstance which does not change the species of a sin; so that it cannot aggravate a sin infinitely, and make a mortal sin of a venial sin, as shown above (I-II, 88, 5). Therefore if drunkenness is not a mortal sin for some other reason, neither is it for this.

Objection 2. Further, Augustine says [Serm. civ in the Appendix to St. Augustine's works]: "Whenever a man takes more meat and drink than is necessary, he should know that this is one of the lesser sins." Now the lesser sins are called venial. Therefore drunkenness, which is caused by immoderate drink, is a venial sin.

Objection 3. Further, no mortal sin should be committed on the score of medicine. Now some drink too much at the advice of the physician, that they may be purged by vomiting; and from this excessive drink drunkenness ensues. Therefore drunkenness is not a mortal sin.

On the contrary, We read in the Canons of the Apostles (Can. xli, xlii): "A bishop, priest or deacon who is given to drunkenness or gambling, or incites others thereto, must either cease or be deposed; a subdeacon, reader or precentor who does these things must either give them up or be excommunicated; the same applies to the laity." Now such punishments are not inflicted save for mortal sins. Therefore drunkenness is a mortal sin.

I answer that, The sin of drunkenness, as stated in the foregoing Article, consists in the immoderate use and concupiscence of wine. Now this may happen to a man in three ways. First, so that he knows not the drink to be immoderate and intoxicating: and then drunkenness may be without sin, as stated above (Article 1). Secondly, so that he perceives the drink to be immoderate, but without knowing it to be intoxicating, and then drunkenness may involve a venial sin. Thirdly, it may happen that a man is well aware that the drink is immoderate and intoxicating, and yet he would rather be drunk than abstain from drink. Such a man is a drunkard properly speaking, because morals take their species not from things that occur accidentally and beside the intention, but from that which is directly intended. On this way drunkenness is a mortal sin, because then a man willingly and knowingly deprives himself of the use of reason, whereby he performs virtuous deeds and avoids sin, and thus he sins mortally by running the risk of falling into sin. For Ambrose says (De Patriarch. [De Abraham i.]): "We learn that we should shun drunkenness, which prevents us from avoiding grievous sins. For the things we avoid when sober, we unknowingly commit through drunkenness." Therefore drunkenness, properly speaking, is a mortal sin.

Reply to Objection 1. Assiduity makes drunkenness a mortal sin, not on account of the mere repetition of the act, but because it is impossible for a man to become drunk assiduously, without exposing himself to drunkenness knowingly and willingly, since he has many times experienced the strength of wine and his own liability to drunkenness.

Reply to Objection 2. To take more meat or drink than is necessary belongs to the vice of gluttony, which is not always a mortal sin: but knowingly to take too much drink to the point of being drunk, is a mortal sin. Hence Augustine says (Confess. x, 31): "Drunkenness is far from me: Thou wilt have mercy, that it come not near me. But full feeding sometimes hath crept upon Thy servant."

Reply to Objection 3. As stated above (Question 141, Article 6), meat and drink should be moderate in accordance with the demands of the body's health. Wherefore, just as it happens sometimes that the meat and drink which are moderate for a healthy man are immoderate for a sick man, so too it may happen conversely, that what is excessive for a healthy man is moderate for one that is ailing. On this way when a man eats or drinks much at the physician's advice in order to provoke vomiting, he is not to be deemed to have taken excessive meat or drink. There is, however, no need for intoxicating drink in order to procure vomiting, since this is caused by drinking lukewarm water: wherefore this is no sufficient cause for excusing a man from drunkenness.

Article 3. Whether drunkenness is the gravest of sins?

Objection 1. It would seem that drunkenness is the gravest of sins. For Chrysostom says (Hom. lviii in Matth.) that "nothing gains the devil's favor so much as drunkenness and lust, the mother of all the vices." And it is written in the Decretals (Dist. xxxv, can. Ante omnia): "Drunkenness, more than anything else, is to be avoided by the clergy, for it foments and fosters all the vices."

Objection 2. Further, from the very fact that a thing excludes the good of reason, it is a sin. Now this is especially the effect of drunkenness. Therefore drunkenness is the greatest of sins.

Objection 3. Further, the gravity of a sin is shown by the gravity of its punishment. Now seemingly drunkenness is punished most severely; for Ambrose says [De Elia et de Jejunio v] that "there would be no slavery, were there no drunkards." Therefore drunkenness is the greatest of sins.

On the contrary, According to Gregory (Moral. xxxiii, 12), spiritual vices are greater than carnal vices. Now drunkenness is one of the carnal vices. Therefore it is not the greatest of sins.

I answer that, A thing is said to be evil because it removes a good. Wherefore the greater the good removed by an evil, the graver the evil. Now it is evident that a Divine good is greater than a human good. Wherefore the sins that are directly against God are graver than the sin of drunkenness, which is directly opposed to the good of human reason.

Reply to Objection 1. Man is most prone to sins of intemperance, because such like concupiscences and pleasures are connatural to us, and for this reason these sins are said to find greatest favor with the devil, not for being graver than other sins, but because they occur more frequently among men.

Reply to Objection 2. The good of reason is hindered in two ways: in one way by that which is contrary to reason, in another by that which takes away the use of reason. Now that which is contrary to reason has more the character of an evil, than that which takes away the use of reason for a time, since the use of reason, which is taken away by drunkenness, may be either good or evil, whereas the goods of virtue, which are taken away by things that are contrary to reason, are always good.

Reply to Objection 3. Drunkenness was the occasional cause of slavery, in so far as Cham brought the curse of slavery on to his descendants, for having laughed at his father when the latter was made drunk. But slavery was not the direct punishment of drunkenness.

Article 4. Whether drunkenness excuses from sin?

Objection 1. It would seem that drunkenness does not excuse from sin. For the Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 5) that "the drunkard deserves double punishment." Therefore drunkenness aggravates a sin instead of excusing from it.

Objection 2. Further, one sin does not excuse another, but increases it. Now drunkenness is a sin. Therefore it is not an excuse for sin.

Objection 3. Further, the Philosopher says (Ethic. vii, 3) that just as man's reason is tied by drunkenness, so is it by concupiscence. But concupiscence is not an excuse for sin: neither therefore is drunkenness.

On the contrary, According to Augustine (Contra Faust. xxii, 43), Lot was to be excused from incest on account of drunkenness.

I answer that, Two things are to be observed in drunkenness, as stated above (Article 1), namely the resulting defect and the preceding act. on the part of the resulting defect whereby the use of reason is fettered, drunkenness may be an excuse for sin, in so far as it causes an act to be involuntary through ignorance. But on the part of the preceding act, a distinction would seem necessary; because, if the drunkenness that results from that act be without sin, the subsequent sin is entirely excused from fault, as perhaps in the case of Lot. If, however, the preceding act was sinful, the person is not altogether excused from the subsequent sin, because the latter is rendered voluntary through the voluntariness of the preceding act, inasmuch as it was through doing something unlawful that he fell into the subsequent sin. Nevertheless, the resulting sin is diminished, even as the character of voluntariness is diminished. Wherefore Augustine says (Contra Faust. xxii, 44) that "Lot's guilt is to be measured, not by the incest, but by his drunkenness."

Reply to Objection 1. The Philosopher does not say that the drunkard deserves more severe punishment, but that he deserves double punishment for his twofold sin. Or we may reply that he is speaking in view of the law of a certain Pittacus, who, as stated in Polit. ii, 9, ordered "those guilty of assault while drunk to be more severely punished than if they had been sober, because they do wrong in more ways than one." On this, as Aristotle observes (Polit. ii, 9), "he seems to have considered the advantage," namely of the prevention of wrong, "rather than the leniency which one should have for drunkards," seeing that they are not in possession of their faculties.

Reply to Objection 2. Drunkenness may be an excuse for sin, not in the point of its being itself a sin, but in the point of the defect that results from it, as stated above.

Reply to Objection 3. Concupiscence does not altogether fetter the reason, as drunkenness does, unless perchance it be so vehement as to make a man insane. Yet the passion of concupiscence diminishes sin, because it is less grievous to sin through weakness than through malice.

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