It is quite unbelievable that the second recorded action that Noah takes after leaving the ark is planting a vineyard. He proceeds to create wine and eventually gets drunk and sheds his clothes. What’s up with that?
I think the simple explanation is escapism. After such a devastating chapter in the history of mankind a man may feel compelled to curl up in the corner of his tent as close as possible to what may be perceived as a fetal position: alone, naked and with a total lack of cerebral capacity.
But I believe there is another aspect of Noah’s actions. He rightfully recognized that, in a sense, the world had been recreated and thus strived to reach the same state in which Adam had been when he was created. Noah’s drinking issue was a deep yearning for spirituality.
I honestly think that many of the modern day substance abusers are searching for some transcendental experience, and in my opinion they do in fact get what they are looking for. The problem is that this method is akin to hacking a computer system to extract information. You get what you’re looking for but you also wreak havoc in the process.
The good news is that there are safer (and legal!) methods of entering the realm of tranquility and elevation. It is by deep study of certain texts and through different methods of prayer and introspection that this can be done. Obviously, there is much room to elaborate on this topic, but from my stand point what is most important is that people know that it is out there.
In the words of the great sage Hillel in response to the person who wanted him to teach all of the Torah while standing on one foot: “go out and study the rest!”