29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has strife? Who has complaints?
Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?
30 Those who linger over wine,
who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.
31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup,
when it goes down smoothly!
32 In the end it bites like a snake
and poisons like a viper.
33 Your eyes will see strange sights,
and your mind will imagine confusing things.
34 You will be like one sleeping on the high seas,
lying on top of the rigging.
35 “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt!
They beat me, but I don’t feel it!
When will I wake up
so I can find another drink?”
Here we have a tragic portrait of addiction. Woe and sorrow may be forgotten in drunkenness, but they are also increased by it. Addiction may begin with euphoria, but the pleasure gradually diminishes, until misery is the only thing left. It is folly to “linger over” and “gaze at” a substance as though it were the answer to sorrow, when in fact it is the gateway. How easily we abandon the “fountain of life” to enter into the “snares of death!” The path of addiction is well known, it poisons, confuses, numbs, and punishes all who take it, only to leave them thirsty for more.
All addiction is a form of escape, whether through alcohol or drugs, food or sex, gambling or addiction to approval. But the central issue is not the means of escape, it is the thing we are running from. Whether that is circumstances, responsibility, or the haunting feeling of worthlessness, the more we run the further they’ll chase us. Whatever that thing is for you, how much will you let it grow before you decide to face it?