Alcohol. The substance that we have convinced ourselves we need to drink in order to have fun. It’s a drug, but a socially acceptable one and to be honest I’m not completely sure why! I have no doubt in my mind that a vast majority of the population will completely disagree with me but personally, I think you should hear me out first.
I’ve never been a particularly big drinker, I didn’t start until my 18th birthday when I got pretty hammered on Bacardi Breezers (yes I was just that cool). I then drank socially every so often but I was often the designated driver! The best way to describe my drinking habits was that I was a binge drinker. This has become a very dirty word in recent years despite the fact it describes quite a lot of you who are reading. Many people consider binge drinking as ‘healthier’ or ‘better for you’ than regularly drinking small amounts because you aren’t putting the substance into your body every day. Science has come up with every theory under the sun about how alcohol will cause cancer, prevent cancer, help sleep, prevent sleep, increase heart disease, reduce risk of heart disease ( you probably get the point). However whether you believe any of this or not, the fact is that it contradicts itself constantly, begging the question, what’s the point?!
When I came to university, I discovered the point of alcohol, clubs are rubbish without it! Fresher’s Week is all about getting drunk, going out and nursing an all day hangover before starting the whole process again the next night. In fact, the word Fresher has become so associated with alcohol that some universities call it ‘Welcome Week’. Drinking is a massive part of the university lifestyle and it doesn’t stop there, the amount of ‘drinks dos’ that people go to when they are in work fills me with dread as to what a working life is like.
I should probably make it clear that this wasn’t always my opinion, during Fresher’s Week I was just like everybody else and at my 20th birthday I was quoted saying that I didn’t want to open my eyes because “I could see two of everything and my head feels funny”. Alcohol was a part of my life just like any other student. From this you can probably guess my reaction to the fact that the tablets I was put on for Anxiety and Panic Attacks became ineffective when mixed with alcohol. I was not impressed at all. I celebrated the end of my exams watching a DVD in bed with a glass of orange squash while a lot of my friends were out getting absolutely hammered.
Three long months of not drinking followed this, until one night in Blackpool I decided that it might not be the worst thing in the world if I had just one drink. One drink became two. Two drinks became three. Four drinks became a Panic Attack. I was helped out of a club by security, I wasn’t being chucked out, in fact I went back in afterwards, but it looked like I was which was nothing short of humiliating. Since then I have realised that what I previously thought were Asthma Attacks when I was drinking and in crowded pubs or clubs were actually Panic Attacks. So now I have two reasons not to drink; the first being it’s a no no with my tablets and the second being that rowdiness and my Anxiety just don’t go well together ( I talked about this in my Panic Attack post.)
Back to the original point that I made; why is alcohol socially acceptable? Since not drinking I have been ‘lucky’ enough to see how people behave when drunk and to be completely honest it makes me glad I don’t drink because at least I don’t act like an absolute idiot. People falling over on the street, being sick, being abusive and these are the nicer side effects of alcohol! I cannot deny that alcohol is socially acceptable because it is what the majority of society deems as okay. However, just because something is seen as socially acceptable it doesn’t really mean that it is! It wouldn’t be acceptable to 49% of the population for people to walk around naked if 51% of the population thought it was, yet this is a majority in exactly the same way! (I almost but in a good old politics reference there but I think I’ll keep that for people who will appreciate it.)
Personally I take the view that you don’t miss what you’ve never had, therefore I wonder what society would be like today if we’d never discovered that it was fine to drink alcohol and the effects that it had. However, I obviously can’t change the past or ‘undiscover’ alcohol so it looks like I’m stuck living in a culture where drinking is cool, the best thing to drink on a Friday night and the centre of most social occasions. I say culture because this isn’t a worldwide thing; there are many places in the world that don’t drink alcohol, whole religions that avoid it and they are perfectly happy without it.
I realise that this may have been a slightly controversial point of view for a 20 year old student to put across but quite frankly I don’t care! Hopefully I won’t be on tablets long term and I’ll manage to keep control of my Anxiety in the future, but even when I do, I find it highly unlikely I’ll ever go back to drinking and I certainly won’t return to the heavy weekend drinking I used to partake in. So you may mock me for staying in and playing scrabble (I don’t actually do this – well not very often) or ordering a lime and soda but I’ll be the one laughing when you’re nursing that hangover tomorrow.