Increase in Alcohol Deaths in the U.S.

Increase in Alcohol Deaths in the U.S.

Alcohol is the most destructive drug that has ever existed on planet Earth, and we see that in the increase in alcohol deaths. The Centers for Disease Control reported that from 2016 to 2021, deaths from alcohol use in the United States increased 29.3% from 137,927 to 178,307. Deaths among males increased 26.8%, and among females, the increase was 34.7%. The CDC makes a point that their data is only for deaths that are 100% attributable to alcohol use.

In ancient times, the term used for a substance (not grapes) used as a drug was “strong drink.” The Bible distinguishes between “wine” and “strong drink.” We find wine mentioned 141 times in the Old Testament and 32 times in the New Testament – always referring to the juice from grapes. The difference between “old wine” and “new wine” was the aging and fermentation of the juice. The juice was mixed with water because the water was not fit to drink without it, so the alcohol content was at a maximum between 10 and 15%. The term “strong drink” is mentioned 23 times in the Old Testament and one time in the New Testament (Luke 1:15). Scholars tell us that this refers to any drink derived from sources other than grapes, and the alcohol content could be as high as 20%.

The wine at the wedding feast at Cana (John 2:1-11) was better than all other wines available, but it was not “strong drink.” Modern distillation did not happen until 1500 A.D., and that is when alcohol became a “recreational drug.” Death due to alcohol consumption was virtually unknown until several years later, but it is epidemic today.

Should we be concerned about the increase in alcohol deaths? Suppose death from some other product claimed 178,307 lives in a year. What would we do about it? Christians view our bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:15) and stand against all things that would damage them. A collateral benefit of that belief is freedom from the damage that alcohol causes.

— John N. Clayton © 2024


Acknowledgement: Thanks to Richard Hoyt for researching the meaning of new wine, old wine, and strong drink.