Individual wrote:Do you use caffeine or alcohol? What in your opinion is the consequence for the habitual use of these two substances? On alcohol, not necessarily alcoholism, but the kind of person who likes to get drunk occasionally, or even somewhat often, but in such a way that it does not interfere with their family life or employment.
Thanks for the topic.
DIscovering Buddhism a few years ago was the reason I stopped using alcohol on a regular basis. I pondered the Fifth Precept for awhile, then decided it was worth a try. And generally speaking, nothing since has suggested any good reason to take up drinking.
However, I'm not 100% in observance -- I have a glass of wine or beer occasionally at family or social gatherings. If someone invites my family over for dinner and hands me a Bud, I'll probably accept it -- even though in this case, the issue isn't just the precept, but the horrible quality of the beer.
I've also switched from coffee to tea. I used to consume so much coffee that it gave me heart palpitations -- an experience so strange that I ended up going to the doctor, fearing a heart problem.
As for the effects of alcohol, well, I researched those intensively during my teens and twenties. And some conclusions stand out. One is that you start to crave the experience of intoxication, so you start becoming less and less patient with normal, non-intoxicated life. Gradually everything becomes a pain in the rear which you need to get out of the way so you can get to the important business of drinking. Alcohol brings about a wonderful, God-like feeling. When you're not drinking, you feel irritable...the solution to which is more drinking.
The other is that you lose inhibitions. And yes, that can be fun...however, it's the "quick and easy" way to do this, and like most quick and easy solutions (ramen noodles, bug spray, McDonald's dollar menu) there are side effects. Also, people may not always find your uninhibited self as charming as you do while drunk.
And finally, it's a kind of dependence...like having a baby bottle to carry around. I just read a great memoir about a son's experiences with an alcoholic father -- "A Wolf at the Table", by Augusten Burroughs. The guy was so chained to his bottle of sherry that he couldn't bring himself to play catch with his son or even exchange more than three sentences. It's really, ah, sobering.