When reality isn’t enough

As we have written before, it is interesting to note almost all the crime stories in The Maui News have a common element:

The accused either has a history of alcohol or drug abuse or was at least using some sort of chemical when the alleged crime took place.

It’s no wonder that less than a century ago our forebears thought prohibition might be a good idea. Of course, it didn’t work.

One aspect of drinking/drug use that has always puzzled us is why some folks are content to enjoy a moderate mood enhancement while others are intent on getting smashed or so high that reality is altered. What is the difference in their makeups?

Also puzzling is why children sometimes feel the need to experiment at very young ages with alcohol or drugs. CNN had a story on its website that said poison control centers across the United States have reported a 400 percent increase in children under 12 ingesting hand sanitizer since 2010. A staggering 16,117 cases were logged in 2014.

Hand sanitizer can prove deadly, too. CNN’s story reported that some of these products contain 45 percent to 95 percent alcohol. Most wines contain around 12 percent, most beers 5 percent.

Are these children facing peer pressure to get drunk? Do they feel they are emulating their parents? The story did not reach a conclusion, but it noted that nonalcoholic sanitizers and wipes are available.

To return to the criminal side of the picture, there is pressure now to reform our justice system — to get people out of prison who are there because of drug-related crimes. Part of that reform should be extensive studies on how to spot and treat people who are susceptible to abuse of drugs and alcohol, before they enter the system.

The problem is complex. Yes, education about the dangers of drugs and alcohol will help. But we also need to find out why some people are more apt to abuse them than others.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.