I thought all weekend about the beer-throwing incident at the Cajundome in which Alan Jackson was hit in the leg with a beer thrown from the crowd, and I came to the conclusion that the guilty party doesn't have a beer-throwing problem: he (or she) has a beer-drinking problem.

When I started reading the comments to the posts on Facebook, many people chimed in to say that the guilty party had been drinking. These comments led me to think about the whole situation and others like it, and what our culture promotes: drinking.

Before I go any further, allow me to be transparent: I drink alcohol. Actually, I had a glass of very nice bourbon last night. Also, if you will allow, I'll make this confession: I did it, too (no, I didn't throw a beer at an international star on stage). In my younger days, I have had a beverage too many and got into a car and drove home.

Now that I am aware of the danger of my actions and how lucky I was that A) I didn't get caught, and B (and most importantly) that no one was hurt/killed by my stupidity, I took time to learn about the effects of alcohol on one's mind.

As soon as you have your first drink, your judgment could be impaired. After just one drink, you will probably still feel fine and think "I am fine, so let me have another drink". This shows poor judgment if you have responsibilities. For example, if you have children to tend to, a vehicle to drive, or if you happen to be responsible for the nuclear war codes, etc. If you have 0 responsibilities, drink up. If you have no family, no job, no car, no pets, no paper/assignment due in the morning, no airplane to fly or spleen to remove and you won't be seeking medical attention on the government's dime then, by all means, drink up.

Look, I get it: South Louisiana is known for its culture. We invest hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars in hiring people to travel the world to advertise our culture. From the crawfish to the music, the festivals to the churches, our roots run deep. Cajun Country is known for its joie de vivre and, as a resident and certified, I am proud to be Cajun. (I am not certain how one gets "Certified" as a Cajun, but my mom was Vermilion Parish, my dad was Acadia Parish, so I qualify, right?)

2013 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Music Festival - Day 1
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What does all of this have to do with Alan Jackson having a beer thrown at him during a concert? Excuses. "He was drunk!" "They were having fun after having a few drinks." "They stumbled to their seats." "He didn't realize what he was doing because he had been drinking."

The person who threw a beer at Alan Jackson doesn't have a beer-throwing problem: he (or she) has a drinking problem (also known as "substance abuse"). If, when you are intoxicated, you throw beer at anyone or are abusive in any way, YOU HAVE A SUBSTANCE ABUSE PROBLEM.

I reached out to Tootie Landry to ask her if I was thinking along the right lines with my assumptions about that person's drinking problem, and she said: "you are 100% correct."

Tootie knows a thing or two about substance abuse: she is a registered addiction counselor (RAC), a certified grief counselor (CGC), a federal probation counselor, an interventionist, and, the thing that gives her (in my opinion) the most clout: she is a recovering alcoholic/addict.

I asked Tootie for her thoughts on the incident:

The person with an alcohol problem passes their pain onto anyone surrounding them. In this case, it was Alan Jackson. The person who threw a beer onto the stage has an obvious drinking problem. This is just like a person who continues to get DUIs: they don't have a driving problem, they have a substance abuse problem. - Tootie Landry, RAC, CGC, Owner of Acadiana Intervention

I asked Tootie if this individual needed help, and her response was "As a professional, I have not interviewed or evaluated the individual in question. But, he did throw a beer at Alan Jackson. Is this normal behavior?"

So, as my high school English teacher taught me, it's time to come to the conclusion of the story (thanks, Coach Richard!):

If drinking makes you think it's okay to throw a beer at Alan Jackson (or anyone/anything else, for that matter), you don't have a beer-throwing problem; you have a substance abuse problem.

No, I am not a professional counselor. No, I did not go to school for psychology. No, I do not know the person who threw the beer. No, I am not a teetotaler. No, I am not trying to bring back prohibition: I am just an embarrassed Cajun, and I don't want one facet of our culture to ruin a good time for anyone who tries to enjoy the rest of what we have to offer.

This incident could easily be brushed under the rug with a "well, he was drunk", but I think that the lump under the rug is already big enough. The lump is so big, I believe, that it has become a tripping hazard. Don't believe me? Just ask anyone affected by alcoholism, and what that lump has done to their lives.

If you or someone you know has a substance abuse problem, please take steps to seek help. Tootie Landry's organization is just one of many in Acadiana able to help if you or someone in your family or circle of friends is a danger to himself or others. The Lafayette Central Office for Alcoholics Anonymous is (337) 991-0830.

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