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Point Counterpoint

January 09, 1987

The companion articles "Renewed Urgency Voiced Over Alcohol Abuse Issues" and "Controversy Grows Over 'Moderate' Drinking" (by Allan Parachini, Dec. 30) graphically counterpointed each other, while clearly raising public awareness over individual and collective problems of alcohol.

The Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. deserves commendation for its recent survey of alcohol issues, especially those involving the use of alcohol by minors and pregnant women. However, Metropolitan Life's listing of each state's relative ranking for yearly per capita consumption of absolute ("pure") alcohol should have been juxtaposed with states' rankings for alcohol taxation and their estimated costs for alcohol misuse.

Ironically, while the first article cites Metropolitan Life's conclusion that alcohol issues "deserve at least as much media, medical, and social attention as illicit drug use" and focuses on "immoderate" drinking, the second largely features a Pomona College professor contending that "moderate" drinking--whatever that is--can be "learned" by most people, if only they would. Whether such drug-using behavior can also be "taught" to the willing, especially to minors and to practicing drinkers, wasn't covered in the article.

Psychologist Roger Vogler's objective of imbibing so as not to get higher than a .055% blood alcohol concentration denies the reality, for example, of the Federal Aviation Administration's recent study on vehicle safety and amount of alcohol consumed--that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption compatible with vehicle safety. What frequent talk-show guest Vogler ought to be advocating for the protection of the public's health and safety is vigorous support of the American Medical Assn., Mothers Against Drunk Driving and others in getting recalcitrant legislators to lower the present .10% blood alcohol content laws to a responsible .05%. Far better to err on the temperate end of the alcohol-using continuum than on the high end, which clearly profits the pushers while creating more pushovers who think they can play but not pay the individual and collective costs for using booze.

RAY CHAVIRA, chairman

Advisory Committee Policy

Americans for Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment


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