Gerald, over at The Level 8 Buddhist takes on the use of alcohol:

As the Buddha taught, alcohol and intoxicants cause heedlessness. The more you drink, the more heedless you become. It’s not that you become heedless after X number of drinks only, any amount will impair mindfulness and make it harder to practice Buddhism on some degree or another.

While I agree that the abuse of any substance can impair one’s practice, seeing that our attachments to stories surrounding the substance can also inhibit realization. Getting fundamental about abstinence can be an addiction that veils awakening from our sight. In a similar way, knocking back several shots of tequila in order to numb our experience can do exactly the same thing.

This isn’t to say that the use of alcohol should be embraced among otherwise sober Buddhists. Instead each of us should look to see if we’re caught by our use, or non-use, of any intoxicant be it something tangible or intangible; be it a form or a thought. This leads us into an even deeper level of inquiry where we get to ask ourselves questions like: Is this pint of Guiness an abuse of an intoxicant? What is my relationship to it? Or perhaps, is my abstention from alcohol an appropriate response in this moment? Is my vow not to abuse alcohol the same thing as never using it?

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