New Zealand has a well-known culture of alcohol use and is one of the most consumed drugs in the country. While the minimum legal age for drinking is 18 years old, people under the age of 18 can still drink under the guidance of a legal guardian. New Zealanders tend to binge drink often. Binge drinking is when you drink a large amount of alcohol over a short period of time. People will often binge drink because of peer pressure, the need to eliminate negative emotions, anxiety, stress and fear. They want to fit in and get that same “buzzed” feeling that everyone else does. Sine alcohol is a drug, once you start drinking more often, you can get addicted to it. This is called alcoholism which is also very common in New Zealand. Alcoholism includes four symptoms which is the powerful need to drink, out of control drinking, withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, sweating, shaking etc. and the need to drink large quantities of alcohol. Misuse of alcohol can cause accidents on the road, physical and sexual assaults, criminal activity and violence, not only effecting the drinker, but the other innocent people around them. ALAC studies in 2005 have shown that New Zealanders consumed 28.69 million liters of alcohol in 2004 and approximately 785,000 (28%) adults drink daily. Alcohol is readily available in New Zealand and can be quite expensive. The money people choose to spend on alcohol can cause increased chance of falling into debt, deprivation and lack of essential resources. It is said by the World Health Organization that almost 4% (2.5 million) of deaths on earth relate alcohol use.
The catholic teachings towards human dignity is about understanding that we are all created in the image of God. God gave us the gift of life and we are expected to treat our own lives with respect and the lives of others. To respect a human being and their dignity we must never exploit, manipulate, humiliate or harass them. Every life is sacred and has value, with each and everyone of us having the mission to live life in the likeness of God. We are all given the chance to have a living connection with God that is inherent and unable to be taken away from us. Human dignity allows us to be free to make our own decisions, but they do teach you to choose what is right and avoid bad. The teachings of human dignity are based on the beliefs that God is the creator of all living things as said in the story of our creation (Genisis 1:26-27) “Let us make humankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” Human dignity makes everyone a someone and not a something. It is equal for everyone, no matter what their social position is.
The ethical principle of human dignity is important to the issue of binge drinking. When you do drink an excessive amount of alcohol, you are putting the sacred gift of life received from God in jeopardy. People who overconsume alcohol make their own decision to destroy their physical health, mental health and their personal relationship with God. It says in CCC 2288: “Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common good.” By drinking large quantities, we are damaging those precious gifts given too us which is disrespecting God. We are not living our lives in the image of him. The use of alcohol becomes a sin when we misuse it and it starts to affect and change the way we act. We know this because it states in CCC 2291: “The use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life. Their use, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is a grave offense.” When you show value in human dignity you feel a stronger relationship with God as you have respect for yourself and him. You have complete trust in God and he has complete trust in you which will uplift your spirits and make you feel happier as you reach your full potential.