Is consuming alcohol really a disease?

To the editor:

We say, "Our children, who are extraordinary to us, are our future." In the state of Arizona, we have devastating laws legislated on certain crimes. Hidden from the public is what caused the crime. Yet through commercials and advertisements we are lured on buying the obvious.

Being incarcerated near your home with men accused of various allegations hurts. Females probably have the same dilemmas. The humiliating part is being held for a crime involving alcohol. When sober, we Indigenous have high self-esteem. We care about our families, sharing resources to tide them over. Then one day we're manipulated, one drink won't hurt. After we buy into the product, the cruelest blow comes. Beliefs of destructive feelings abounds upon waking up detained. Our self-esteem falls, bringing with it subtle feelings for our families.

Life has meaning and values - it does. As Indigenous, we came to these border towns for various reasons. Most of us to shop. Some of us for legitimate reasons. Undeniably, we have relatives employed or bettering themselves through education. But, the alcohol consumed and events it causes gently sways around you, inviting sorrow feelings affecting people close to like ripples in a pond.

Yes! Doing jail or prison term for a crime you meant to do in a sober way is probably alright. Questions still linger, but it would be under the judicial system. An arrest for a crime committed under the influence of alcohol should seriously be questioned. It might be an illegal arrest.

Way back in the 1940s, the American Medical Association proved that alcoholic beverages were a disease. Sixty-five years later, men and women are still arrested for crimes committed under the influence of alcohol. This should be illegal.

A man named Robert Sundance in the 1960s fought the California judicial system. This occurred after him being arrested numerous times for drunkenness. The grounds he used was that alcohol was a disease and his arrests were like arresting someone being diabetic and no one should be treated like that who is an alcoholic. Court litigation went Mr. Sundance's way. Thirty-five other states followed the ruling of the California judicial system.

Still, 45 years after drunkenness was outlawed involving alcohol, people are still being arrested. It's said, "Alcohol is baffling, cunning and powerful." Is this saying reversed through actions of police officers making the arrests because an arrestee is obstructed by intoxication?

Some of us on the Dineh Nation are outspoken critics and an advocate of sobriety. We hear shortage of jails. Our young people turning to gangs. Our women and men going to prison for committing heinous crimes. Is it asking too much, if alcoholic beverages really is a disease, making most border towns to our Dineh Nation "dry counties?" Or legislate those who consume alcohol to carry permits for quantity of alcohol? Others can go to counties and cities where liquor is legal and also covered by their laws.

Truth is reality. If consuming alcohol really is a disease where a crime is committed, a judicious decision should be implemented. Chemicals in alcoholic beverages secretly brought about the crime. It is powerful to tell the truth. In return, withholding the truth is potentially a lie. We don't want to see our extraordinary children's hearts broken, their relationships go dead, their attractiveness uprooted, and mostly their homes become turmoil.

Dean Benally

Coconino County Jail



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