For most of the story, Van Winkle is never in contact with alcohol, in fact, the only time we really see him drinking is during that strange night in the mountains. But before we get to that, we should note that Van Winkle, like a drunk, does leave an unproductive lifestyle: he lays around, avoids real work, and lets his house and family suffer. So on that fateful night, when Van Winkle climbs the mountain and meets the strange bowling men, he gets hammered. So hammered, he passes out. For 20 years. That's a coma. Drinking the alcohol literally robs him of 20 years of his life. When he returns to town, his wife is gone, his house is run down, his dog is no longer domestic... Alcohol has ruin his body, home, and relationships. Although this is probably not the main point or theme of "Rip Van Winkle," this is just one more theme.