week science has produced the research to prove his point.
We generally assume today that cigarette smoking and heavy drinking must be bad for us. In an article published in the British Journal of Psychiatry titled "Combined impact of smoking and heavy alcohol use on cognitive decline in early old age..."[i], the authors Gareth Hagger-Johnson et.al, have determined that our ability to think is savaged by the combination of heavy alcohol use and smoking. They measured the decline in the ability of adults to think over a 10 year period and the results were startling. People who smoked 20 cigarettes a day and drank the equivalent of 14 English pints (20ounces!) of beer per week saw their cognitive ability drop 36% faster when compared to people who did not smoke and who only drank moderately. That means the smoking/ heavy drinkers had lost considerably more of the thing we hold most dear as adults; the ability to think.
Dementia is no laughing matter in this country or in Britain. You only need to talk with a friend or relative who faces the struggle of what to do with loved ones who no longer have the capacity to care for themselves to understand the heartache it brings. So, why in the world would we want to do something to ourselves that could make this to worse?
Biblical counseling has something to say about this issue. Of course the problem is choosing habits that are self destructive. Drunkenness is defined in scripture as sin. Paul said “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, (Eph 5:18 NASB). It is hard to avoid the plain words to the Ephesians and to us. Paul admonished the Corinthians that they were (and we are) the temple of God and that they should take care not to destroy the temple. (1Corinthians 3:16:17) Clearly believers should avoid habits that are known to harm their bodies.
I have now lived through two generations. I grew up in a church where we did not drink alcohol, play cards, go to movies and if we lived north of the Ohio River we did not smoke. And, naively, I suppose we thought no one was indulging. I have watched over the past 40 years as churches have accommodated themselves to many of these habits. I would say it is just as naive now to assume that counselees who come to counseling with many kinds of
struggles are not drinking alcohol to excess, smoking, and using other legal and illegal drugs. The only way we can help them is to ask them as we gather the history how much they drink and how much they smoke.
Medical science is telling once again that smoking and drinking alcohol to excess is really bad not only for our health, but bad for our brains! And, it is our job to ask and then offer biblical encouragement to help those who are
struggling with alcohol and nicotine to quit, grow and change.
British Journal of Psychiatry, “Combined Impact of smoking and heavy alcohol use on cognitive decline in early old age: Whitehall II prospective cohort study.” Gareth Hagger-Johnson et.al.