Merrie Ole England…hic

If you’re squeamish don’t read this article. It reports the disturbing rise of female binge drinking in the UK, and of course, the attendant rise in unwanted pregnancies, abortion and sexually transmitted infections.

G.K.Chesterton said “Every argument is a theological argument.” Behind alcoholism is despair and behind despair is the lack of anything to live for, and behind the lack of anything to live for is the absence of belief and behind the absence of belief is atheism. The atheism of the Soviet system eventually brought it tumbling down, and one of the main reasons for its demise was alcoholism of epidemic proportions.

It has been my opinion for some time that the spirit of atheism and drunken despair that infested Eastern Europe has simply moved West. Ironic that during the Cold War what we feared was an invasion of Western Europe from the Communist East. Now it’s happened, but it was a spiritual invasion not a military one.

"Catholicism has always defined the ideal but there are no limits on God's mercy and ..."

Tony Palmer: Is There Salvation Outside ..."
"With all due respect, Shaun, are you relegating the actual Faith to whatever the local ..."

Notes on Tony Palmer’s Funeral
"There are good parking valets and bad parking valets. There are good housesitters and bad ..."

The Case for Conversion to Catholicism
"did you vote for Bush Fr Longenecker? would you have?"

Understanding Iraq

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • The only thing Fr is that the many alcoholics i know are very good practicing Catholics with an illness!& families..but i hear what you say about the young binge-drinkers..slighly different types??

  • Fr Michael

    I’m not sure, Father, about your analysis on this one. People like Alexander Solzhenitsyn were talking about the materialism and decadence of the West some 30 – 40 years ago. It’s admitttedly much worse, certainly in Britain, than it was then, but I fear it is home produced and has much to do with the decline of the Christian Faith and the failure of nerve on the part of Christians – particularly Anglicans (I speak as one – just!)

  • The reasons for societal decline are complicated, and I wouldn’t want to blame it on just one factor.

  • Anonymous

    Well, my late mom was an alcoholic, but no matter how drunk she was, managed to stumble through the Rosary each night and never went to bed without sprinkling holy water. As Mrs. Parkes, said, she was a very good Catholic with a severe illness. Besides her, a few of my uncles were that way as well. Of course, I couldn’t read Mom’s mind, and often wondered what drove her to the bottler. Only God knows that, and hopefully, now that she’s been home in heaven for a while, she’s found the peace that so eluded her in life.

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

  • I’ve seen enough of what’s called “binge drinking” to suspect it’s a very different thing from garden variety alcoholism. There’s an underlying despair that’s much worse.

  • Anonymous

    Fr Dwight, I’m sure you’re correct about the relationship between despair and addiction; basically they are ingrained and difficult to dislodge habits. Other habits, even apparently good ones, such as saying the rosary or church going, can still co-exist with despair. I think every human being has an addictive side and the correct place for it to be exercised is in following Jesus Christ, manifested by putting others first. Alcoholism is first and formost an indulgence in which family relationships and finances can be wrecked and with all manner of downstream baggage following behind. Okay, so our all too common alcoholic “practising” Catholic can still exhibit many signs of piety but what is important is that person’s disposition toward their problem – are they improving (goodness wise)? Are they slipping back? Or are they merely marking time? The rest is over to the judgement of God, not our’s.Best wishesStephen SparrowHave to post anonymously since I’ve forgotten my Google login name and password combo – too much binging 😉

  • Binge drinking may be related to this phenomenon as well:

  • Well Stephen from what i’ve seen of the heroic battle with this disease i wouldn’t even begin to judge…

  • Randy

    I think you are missing the point. Dispair does lead to alcoholism. Is there also a physical and psychological addiction happening? Of course. But hopelessness does play a role. It makes the problem more common and more intense. I don’t know how well documented things are but most informal comparisons of drinking in Eastern and Western Europe during the cold war are quite striking. Communist countries drink way more. I remember one Russian who defected. He was annoyed to constantly hear westerners say that Russians drink Vodka because the climate is cold. The part of Russia he was in was not cold. They never had snow but they sure had Vodka. His comment was that it was rooted in hopelessness.

  • did any one catch this bit: “Abortion clinics are already bracing themselves for a post-Christmas boom in unwanted pregnancies after one charity reported a record month in January this year. The family planning service Marie Stopes International performed almost 6,000 abortions in January – a rise of 13% on the previous year.”A result from the guilt and shame of abortion is … binge drinking.Vicious cycle.

  • Mark

    I can attest to my own struggles with drugs to say that addiction is not a problem, it’s a symptom. The understanding of that is fundamental.I got high every day of my life, from morning to night for twenty-five years. This was self medicating myself to numb my own pain. I was in therapy for eleven years and my therapist never once told me to stop getting high, because he knew that it was a symptom not a problem. We dealt with the root problem, which was all the pain I was in. Once that was resolved after eleven years (!) I simply had no more desire to get high anymore. I didn’t have to force myself, or pray for help, or go to endless meetings. There are probably many paths to the same place I’m at, where the pain and dispair that causes drug abuse ends, but I don’t think there is any real cure without coming to that place.Once I was off drugs, my spiritual life slowly recovered too. I stopped getting high over five years ago, but have only started to go to Church this past year. So I agree with the original post that alcoholism, along with drug abuse, depression and most mental illnesses have their roots in pain. But I disagree that it’s all spiritual pain. My pain came from my own life history. However, if I had a strong spiritual background, I think that perhaps I could have dealt with the pain without resorting to drugs. So while I don’t think that atheism leads to alcoholism, drugs pr depression directly, I do think that it leads us open to it by not having that rock that is Jesus at the center of our lives.I’m unsure about the role of religion in getting over drug abuse or alcoholism. Though many will have found it helpful, I know of others who have not seen it help, as one person cited here as well. My therapist was a very secular, Jewish man. I know he told me he didn’t believe in heaven, but I think Jews as a whole are uncertain about that. He was not anti-religious though. Though I’d like to say that God was working with me in this long process, I’d also have to say that the real way I got through this long nightmare was my own relentless determination and a therapist who trusted me and listened to me without demanding anything from me. I know I never prayed once during the whole process.Without knowing the man’s mother who though drunk was a practicing Catholic, I’d concur that there was some inner pain or loss that drove her to drink.What we all have to realize is that we live in a profoundly atheistic and materialistic culture, and that its thinking needs to be rooted out of all of us. And by materialistic I don’t just mean the commercial products. I mean that the philosophy of our age starts out with the premise that we’re all just machines, a network of meaningless chemicals. With that belief as the core, then alcoholism can be seen as chemical addiction. The same is said about depression. If someone is depressed, the atheistic doctors say that the real problem is a chemical imbalance and they give the poor person a bunch of drugs. This is a sure road to disaster. If someone has their hand in a fire, the solution is not pain killers so they don’t feel the pain. The solution is to take their hand out of the fire.

  • Sorry Mark but i beg to bi-polar affective disorder is genetic & passed on to 2 of my children..we never ceased to pray, go to Mass or avail ourselves of the sacraments..guess what..i’ve still got bi-polar which includes depression..lack of faith it certainly ain’t!

  • Randy

    Sure some people are still going to be depressed. It is a matter of the how many and how seriously. It also matters how you deal with depression. People of faith will tend to avoid falling into drugs, promiscuity, etc. more often. Again there are exceptions. Still there is a strong correlation between your belief in an eternal meaning and purpose to life and your ability to endure struggles without falling into negative patterns of behaviour. The fact that Catholic hope expects the struggles makes it especially strong. We know life is going to be hard but we also know we are doing real good when we struggle and remain holy.

  • Well sure randy by the grace of God i don’t drink or do drugs & live a sacramental life..but for some it might not be so easy..sorry folks i’m on my high horse again will get off & let you get on!

  • Anonymous

    Jackie, as far as I’m aware science has yet to identify a gene that predisposes a person to exhibit either bi-polar or schitzophrenic behaviour, and please don’t point me to some web site as an authority. I remember about 30 or 40 years ago prominent British psychiatrist R. D. Laing who nearing the end of his professional career, confounded his colleagues all over the English speaking world by opining that apart from brain deformities caused by physical or chemical damage (include in there intellectually impaired folk from birth & folk who drink too much), all mental illness was nothing other than social phenomena. In other words behaviour – copied behaviour. All parents have a lot to answer for in the way in which we shape our children to be extensions of our egos: instead of trusting God and allowing our children to be what HE would like them to be. Put it all down to Original Sin, right?CheersStephen Sparrow

  • Randy

    Always happy to get on a high horse! Seriously, I was just trying to point out that you and Fr Dwight were both right. That is that your observations didn’t really disprove his because he was looking at large populations and you were looking at individuals. I am hardly an expert in either area but it seems to me that the both-and option is at least possible.

  • Anonymous

    I consider myself a very religious person and I work for the Catholic Church. However, I also suffer from a moderate form of depression and have for years, even though my faith has not flagged. I avoided seeking medical help for the depression for years because I believed there was something wrong with my spiritually and could simply fix it by prayer and the “right attitude.” uh uh. the problem didn’t get fixed until I had a combination of a good therapist and an anti-depressant. I think sometimes people avoid seeking medical attention for a disorder because they somehow feel “god should be enough.” I always tell them God put medical knowledge and therapists on earth for a reason.

  • In recent years, the English have been beguiled by claims for the “Prudent Diet,” one in which vegetable oils are substituted for animal fats and the use of cholesterol-rich foods is minimized. ——————-Cindyalcoholism treatment