It's pretty normal for college students to drink until they blackout on their 21st birthday. "Drinking 'til you drop" has been done throughout human history, dating back to the Byzantine Empire. In colonial times, people would drink more alcohol than water, since it was cleaner than river water(which they pissed in). Even children were drinking alcohol back in those days! So, why not partake in this human tradition? Why not go out to the bars with my buddies and get turnt? Why not throw up my guts the next morning?
Well, it's not that I think it's evil or irresponsible. Actually, I think it's healthy for people to let loose and have fun at parties. If you restrict people, they will inevitably over-indulge later in a way that is much more harmful. No, I'm just personally scared of it. From moments in my life, I have seen the devastating power alcohol can have on a life. These encounters were uncensored, raw, and up close.
The first encounter was when I was eight. My uncle was living with us when he had cancer. Part of the reason for his stay was that my mom turned our home into a hospice. The other reason, said to me after he died, was that he had no one else and would've been on the street. He was skinny and quiet in the time he was with us. His whole life, he struggled with alcoholism. He couldn't keep a job and never had a family. The home he had lived in before was from a charity organization connected to the church.
His house, before he moved in with us, was filled with roaches. We had learned this the hard way. My dad, who had tried to salvage an old television from his brother's house, had unwittingly brought home some 20 cockroaches— which jumped out and scattered as soon as he placed the television on the carpet. It was the first time I had ever seen these brown, quivering little pests in my home of bleached countertops and fresh laundry.
In the final days of my uncle's stay, when every meal he ate was vomited back up an hour later, I remember watching from a distance as he cried in my mother's arms.
The second encounter was when I was seventeen. My long-distance ex and I would leave Skype in the background of our computers while we slept. One night, a school night, he had come home from a party. Earlier in our relationship, he had admitted that he had a drinking problem, that he would black out and get scared. This night, in particular, he had woken me up at 2:00 a.m. He was panicking, insisting that I had to watch him while he slept. If I didn't, he feared he would drown in his own throw-up while he slept. Naturally, I kept drifting off and every time I did, he would scream and cry. Despite it being four years ago, I still remember that night pretty vividly.
Although these encounters were horrifying, I still drank with friends on my birthday. Was it less than half a drink? Yes! Did I stare at it and then look at my boyfriend the way Jesus prayed in the garden the night before his crucifixion begging God to "pass this cup from my lips"? Also Yes! Did I have fun? Absolutely! And I think that's what's important. I wouldn't have had fun if I got "shit faced." I would've been mortified, I would've had nightmares about throw-up and cockroaches for weeks! But, on the flip side, I would've felt left out if I didn't at least try one.
So, this is less a piece about anti-alcoholism than it is about moderation or facing your fears.