Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 31:6
"Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to him whose life is bitter"
What is interesting about this proverb is that it seems to be a thought-pun – a bitter irony on the truth that he has stated just a few verses before. He has been talking to leaders, and he says that they should not resort to drunkenness and adultery in their positions of influence and power because they will forget what God has said and the needs and rights of the oppressed and afflicted. Then this proverb says that it is the one who is under the oppression, affliction, and injustice that the drunken leader did not take care of that needs the drink.
When the leader does not do his job to protect the rights of the little people, then the only thing left, King Lemeul says – somewhat tongue-in-cheek – is to give them really strong drink to numb up the pain of the life they have been forced to lead. How does the leader protect the perishing and afflicted from addiction and bitterness? Make sure that they don't use their power of choice for selfish pleasure. Put moral limits on the people so that they cannot take advantage of others or themselves for purely selfish or destructive ends. Cause people to realize that what they choose to do affects many people downstream in very different ways than it affects them? Don't lead in such a way that the people who are under you need to drink to handle your leadership.
This is also a truism that those who have repeatedly made bad choices in life or have had bad choices made unto them, medicate themselves to forget the pain. This is the root of addictions. I have a wound(s) that is so painful that I do not want to face it, so I run from it through alcohol, drugs, sex, food, etc. A person who is addicted to a negative substance is trying to avoid some pain or trauma and has consumed so much of this medication that they now seem to need this substance in order to function in any sort of "normal" way.
The whole of the Bible cries out that one does not need to medicate the problem. Instead, it is more important to face the problem and solve it and move beyond it. Do not let this one problem or issue define your life. You can move past the wound, the pain, and now the addiction. There are people all around you who will help you build a life that no longer involves hiding from these wounds and self-medication problems.
It is important to see both truths in this proverb: the unwillingness of some people to face the pain in their life and the power of the leader to make sure that the little guy is protected from injustice and oppression.