I found a flip-flop in my car the other day, and I am hoping to return the item to its rightful owner. But it just had me thinking about the misuse of alcohol in general in this country… And probably other countries as well.
I’ll start by saying that I suppose I’m lucky, in a way, that alcohol does nothing for me. Nothing good, anyway – it’s instant migraine, not worth the “gee, this stuff tastes good” reaction I may have from time to time with certain alcoholic beverages, such as Kahlua and Cream or Grasshoppers. (I’ll stick with other creamy drinks and mint chocolate chip ice cream for more satisfaction without the migraine.)
I didn’t, however, obtain this effect earlier in life. Throughout college and young adulthood, while alcohol didn’t make me feel terrific, neither did it always have quite the painful impact in so short a time. It was a personal choice that had me go my entire freshman year and most of my college time without drinking, though it would have been easy enough to obtain an almost unlimited supply of beer and other types of liquor on FSU campus.
Part of the choice was made before I even started college. I read a newspaper article about a poor woman who was gang-raped while intoxicated at FSU… It made an impression. The world we live in is seldom fair, and spoiled rich boys think they can victimize intoxicated women with little impunity. While they were ultimately arrested, and the fraternity was temporarily disbanded, (I believe they are once again off campus these days…) her life was destroyed nonetheless.
I don’t want to sound like I am blaming the victim, AT ALL. I am not. NOBODY deserves what happened to her. But like I said, the world is not a fair place, and I made a decision that I never wanted to lose that sort of control over my own being.
In Freshman orientation, that was reaffirmed by a story of some drunken college freshman stumbling into Tennessee Avenue and being struck by a car. When you drink enough to become intoxicated, you lose enough of your senses sometimes to realize where you are and what you are doing. The kid lost his life in pursuit of fun.
But really, how fun is drinking until you puke? Do you really like the sensation of being dizzy? Why not spin around in circles until you lose your sense of direction – the room can spin, and you haven’t wasted your money or your liver – just achieved the same effect of disorientation by turning in circles like a kid. Personally, dizziness lost all sense of fun for me the year my little brother and I got stuck on the bumper boats at Hee Haw Village.
There were a few times when I was younger when I drank enough to feel sluggish, disoriented, and dizzy. Kind of like I felt when I fell off a ladder in my final year of college.
Most of the people I’ve known who chose to drink heavily have done so to lose their inhibitions, or their sense of control. Maybe it’s to dull a pain, but with teens and young adults, it’s more often to disassociate with a sense of responsibility. “If I get drunk I can dance on table tops, and that will be okay somehow, because I was drunk.” Newsflash: It’s okay to dance on table tops when you are sober! It can actually be pretty fun!
There was a time or two in that first year of college when I lacked the courage to do something I wanted to do, and contemplated the whole “drunk dialing” thing. Fortunately, the first time I decided I’d use alcohol as a crutch/excuse to do what lacked the courage to do, a friend talked some sense into me.
This is the public service announcement part of my post, and it can’t be said too often:
If you want to do something, DO IT! Don’t “get drunk” to do it. Just do it.
If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing sober. If it’s something you may regret doing, remember that you really only live once, and often it’s better to live with regrets for the things you’ve done than the things you were too afraid to do. As long as it won’t kill you, sometimes mistakes aren’t mistakes at all – they are the things that you will one day write about, the things that change your life and make you who you are meant to be. But you can’t learn from your actions if you can’t remember them.
If it’s really and truly something you shouldn’t do, something that will hurt you beyond measure, then you shouldn’t do it, period. Don’t get drunk and do it anyway. The thing about stress is that it is our body’s way of warning us, preventing us from doing stupid stuff that could get us killed. So if the action you are contemplating is really incredibly dangerous, drinking alcohol will only make it more so. Don’t do it, or at least give yourself a fighting chance to survive by being sober!
I am not a doctor, but I was told by a doctor that there are two addictions that, if quit cold turkey, can KILL someone. One of the two was alcohol, the other was the same class of drugs that includes Xanax. Morphine, heroin, and many other drugs may seem difficult to quit, but as miserable as it may feel and as sick as you may be coming down from them, it won’t kill you. Alcohol addiction very well can.
And yet, it’s a legal drug that requires no prescription. It would be interesting to see statistics on how many deaths are caused by alcohol each year – either from DUI, medical reactions to alcohol, or alcohol induced behavior. I’m guessing it will be much higher than, say, pot. (I can’t stand the smell of that, and have no desire to indulge in that either… I’m only in trouble if they every ban caffeine…) But it’s not only okay to buy alcohol (if you’re over 21), many social settings encourage heavy drinking.
In law school, just about every event I attended included beer, wine, and sometimes cocktails. My friends on Facebook are constantly posting about the wine they are drinking or need to deal with whatever situation is causing them grief at any given moment.
Small amounts of alcohol may be healthy. Wine may lower your blood pressure. There is nothing at all wrong with enjoying a glass of wine here or there, or a beer or two. Just know that (unless you are an alcoholic and may experience symptoms of withdrawal) you don’t need it. You shouldn’t use it as a crutch. Go out, have fun, do the things in life that you really want to do without regret. And don’t get so drunk you stumble into a road or fail to realize you are no longer wearing one of your shoes.
Save forgetting your own address for the Alzheimer’s phase of life.