Alcohol kills when it's behind the wheel, drugs destroy lives

In my past two columns, I shared my thoughts on prevention of drug use - particularly, but not limited to, methamphetamine - at home and in the schools, as well as the necessity to rethink drug testing in the workplace.

Let's turn our attention now to alcohol. Yes, it's true, if businesses in general required testing for alcohol consumption in general, the only livelihood remaining for Carson City residents would be minnow watching on the skinny banks of the Carson River.

Many people in Carson City, including myself, enjoy having a cocktail after work hours. Socializing after work hours is part of the heartbeat of that special charm that Carson City residents embrace. State and civic leaders, business men, business women. Legislature? Good God, break out the distilleries!

But having a drink after working hours is a hell of a lot different than drinking on the job or having a martini or glass of wine for lunch, and then returning to work. VERY different.

One of comedian Jeff Foxworthy's self-test "redneck" detections goes something like, "If you bring a six-pack of beer to a job interview ... you might be a redneck." Comparatively speaking, some people would be better off. At least the interviewer would know their level of honesty.

Sure, you can dig really deep on this topic. Drug users will probably be among the first to say that alcohol is by far the greater cause of auto accidents than illegal drugs. I can't and would never argue that point. Drunk drivers are irresponsible pinheads with manslaughter signs in their crystal balls.

I'm sure, however, that most drug abusers are also chasing their magic powders and potions with alcohol. Even smoking a joint with a few beers will send them off to a place where Peter Pan passes for a parish priest, and driving a car and functioning at a job become one-way cannonball trips to Milton's Paradise Lost.

But drug abuse carries a curse that goes beyond even a drunkard's blackout. It's something that you won't see documented as a chemically-induced side effect. Not one of those physician's warnings you'll see adhered to a pharmacy's vial of pills, or on one of the local anti-meth posters that features a catalog of synthetic meth ingredients. It's called a will to kill.

When a human being is starving - I mean really starving - the lowest common denominator of raw basic instinct is to revert to violence to stay alive. Don't think so? Well, just think what you'd do if you were lost in the Sierra Nevada for days and days, and you saw a squirrel. You'd become Carl Lewis on the spot and that squirrel's only chance of escape is if you trip over your own feet in your savage pursuit.

But I believe there is something in the addiction to heroin, meth and crack that washes away a person's value on life. Your cerebral blackboard is erased of any chalk dust evidence of morality. Think about it: If someone is stupid enough to cannibalize their own bodies with chemical desuetude, why should they care about someone else's?

Case in point (make that one of many cases in point): Quick, what was the motivation behind the murder of 20-year-old Adam Wells? Bonk! You got it - drugs! His ... umm ... friends wanted to "teach Adam a lesson" for allegedly stealing drugs from his roommate's bedroom - a room they both shared - a "friend" who would be charged with his murder along with two other "friends." Nice friends. Who was teaching whom what?

When was the last time you heard about someone breaking into a house or car to steal cash for a pint of gin? But for drugs? You bet your ass. Many times I have heard about house and car breaks by druggies. And remember, they have no value on life. They will shoot you dead as driftwood without their pulse rate fluctuating one beat.

Now here's an idea: Can you imagine what would happen if businesses conducted random breathalyzer tests? I haven't heard of any businesses doing that, but can you imagine if they did? Granted, they'd have to test the suspected employee pretty damn fast since the alcohol traces last only about one hour per drink in the blood and urine streams, but what a thought! You see, having a drink or two after work is a stratosphere of difference from drinking just hours before you start your work day, or drinking on the job.

Drugs remain the prime jewel of an idiot's treasure - the whole meaning of "fool's gold" turned upside down. I've seen people laughing and having a genuinely good time over a few drinks. But you have to know when to stop. I have yet to hear of people having the time of their lives while swallowing meth or shootin' junk, whether they know when to stop or not.

Drugs are just as dangerous as money. Make that more dangerous than money. People kill for both. Cheaply. Both "treasures" make the best of friends turn on each other like starved tenement dogs. But, money alone doesn't disembowel you and threaten the lives of those around you unless you use it to jam the inside of your head like chewed-up gum and leave it a lifeless, skull-shaped bowl of gelatin.

n John DiMambro is publisher of the Nevada Appeal. Write to him at


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