Why I’m a teetotaler

Published 10:09 pm Tuesday, January 29, 2019

By Nathan Rice

I was living in Palermo, Italy when a friend invited me to visit the small winery for which she worked. The offer to learn new things about the winemaking process and to have a personal tour of a real-life Italian winery had me jumping on a train to a nearby town where the winery was located. The tour was fascinating, and I learned a lot.

The last stop on the tour was a tent overlooking the vineyard where they held wine tastings. She told me all about the wine that they were about to serve me. I said, “Thank you so much for the offer, but I don’t drink alcohol.” My friend and tour guide replied, “Oh my! Never?”

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A lot of people are surprised when they learn I don’t drink alcohol. I know I’m in a vast minority, but there are many reasons why I’ve been a teetotaler my entire life.

One aversion I have to alcohol stems from its deadly nature. Alcohol is consistently ranked among the leading causes of death in America, and its destructive properties are warned about by numerous national and global health organizations. I don’t have a desire to start a habit that brings about a leading cause of death in my country.

I’ve also seen the destructive power of alcohol all too often. I’ve heard drunken neighbors fight, read countless stories of drunk drivers who have taken innocent lives, and watched people I know go down a reckless path that began at the end of a bottle. I’ve spoken with numerous police officers and attorneys who share the large percentage of crimes and incidents they deal with that involve alcohol. The Centers for Disease Control and other health organizations may provide statistics on the dangers of alcohol, but my eyes have seen the damage it can do. I don’t need an organization to tell me it’s dangerous.

Little tear-stained eyes have looked up at me and said things like, “I think Daddy had too much to drink” as they tell about different things they should never have experienced. I’ve heard their stories of how alcohol has played a role in wrecking their homes. Every tearful story I hear is another reason why alcohol companies will never be given a penny of my money.

As a follower of Christ, I also take Scripture very seriously. I know the Bible warns of being led astray by the bottle and strictly forbids getting drunk. Following Christ is the most important thing in my life, so why would I risk my relationship with Him because of the offer of a drink?

I know most will make the case that all the trouble alcohol brings comes from overindulging and that everything is fine if it is done in moderation. I understand many good people drink alcohol without ever being hurt by its content. I’m not here to judge those who drink alcohol.

I know, though, that it’s destroyed countless lives. It hurts so many children. It destroys so many families. I’ve seen it with my own eyes more times than I want to count. I’ll never support the companies who have willingly contributed to this destruction. I also know I’ll never become a victim to its properties, because I’ll never take that first sip. Yes, I’m a teetotaler, and I’m happy with that decision.


Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.