Ever been drunk? Ever been drunk and done something stupid? I have. Once at a friends’ house-party I was doing the “Chicago” high-kicks (don’t ask!) and smashed her beautiful glass CD case. Being a good friend she laughed it off and admittedly she was just as drunk as I was at the time. (…and if you’re curious, yes, we’re still friends!) Another time, I was at a popular nigh-spot and after a few (too many!) shooters took my top off. The DJ awarded me with a free bottle of Champagne. The second time I took my top off I was asked to leave. (So, okay….one of my friends was dancing half naked on the tables!) but you get the picture. My point is that we’ve all done it, well….most of us anyway. Yes, there are the very religious and those who simply don’t drink who can smugly admit that they’ve never done anything drunkenly stupid.
Some of us have sent those 2am texts to exes and have had to apologise or retract statements the next morning. Some of us have been so drunk at office parties that we’ve told our colleagues, or worse, our bosses what we really thought of them. There are those who wake up next to a stranger and regret it bitterly. There are those who wake up in the penguin enclosure at the zoo and think WTF? I’m sure nearly all of us have a story to tell that starts with, “One time I was so drunk that….” by why? Why do we do it? As I write this, I have a glass of red at my side. I have consumed…oh, about half a bottle already……and it’s vile! I don’t even like the stuff, so why am I still drinking it? Am I going to keep drinking? No. Mainly because the bottle is finished and that’s all there is in the house but I like to think that this is my limit. I know that I’ve already had too much to drink. I’ve reached the stage where operating heavy machinery would be dangerous (not that I’d know where to find any!) and getting behind the wheel of a car would be dangerously stupid (not least because I don’t know how to drive…) and if there were a male within kissing distance he would not be safe from my amorous attentions. Luckily I’m at home and not a danger to anyone but there are those who do operate heavy machinery when drunk, confidently get into their cars thinking they’re quite capable of driving (sometimes with tragic consequences) and yes, there are those who have ended up in bed with the wrong person simply because ‘the tequila made them do it’.
If we were completely honest, we would admit that we don’t drink alcohol because it tastes good (except for Chocolate liqueur which is delicious!) but for it’s effects. Give me a few drinks and I loosen up and lose those inhibitions that makes people call me “uptight” and I become extremely sociable. For other people, alcohol gives them the confidence that they lack, for others it’s an escape from the stresses of a busy or unhappy life and for others still it’s a way of keeping warm or simply something to kill time.
How do we eradicate alcohol abuse? By eradicating alcohol itself? That’s not going to happen. Look at the prohibition era, a time where the manufacture and selling of alcohol was outlawed. Did it stop people drinking? No, it was a resounding failure as boot-legging aka rum-running became widespread and organised crime took control of the distribution of alcohol. (We all know this from watching “Boardwalk Empire” on tv as well as prohibition-era set movies) There is this drive to ban alcohol advertising. Do alcohol ads glamorize alcohol? Does an advert featuring pretty boys drinking French Brandy in the Eiffel Tower make you want to rush out and buy said Brandy? If there were no adverts for alcohol would people still drink? Well, Cigarette advertising has been banned yet there are still smokers and in my opinion, alcohol kills more people than cigarettes do. There are still debates as to whether secondary smoking kills but there is no doubt that alcohol abuse has killed non-drinkers. The WHO released statistics*** that the harmful use of alcohol results in the death of 2.5 million people annually and that nearly 4% of all deaths are related to alcohol.
Even if alcohol doesn’t kill you with liver-disease or cancer of the mouth, pharynx (throat), larynx (voice box), esophagus, liver, breast, and colorectal region or heart-disease, it affects you in other ways. Alcohol abuse has been linked to depression, dementia, gall-stones, gout, pancreatitis and numerous other illnesses.
It plays havoc with your skin if you’re a woman. Even men develop a “drinker’s complexion”, c’mon, that guy who’s always red in the face (and very jovial!) It affects a woman’s fertility and kills active sperm in men***, making it difficult to conceive.
With all these dangers, pitfalls and outright tragic consequences, why do we still drink? Is it that age old excuse of “it can’t happen to me”? Can you stop at one drink, or before that stage when it becomes a danger to you and others? Could you just not drink at all? I went through a stage of not drinking and in various social situations was derided as being ‘prissy’, ‘uptight’ and a ‘sanctimonious cow’. Social events like “Phuza Thursday” have added to the pressure and there is a social stigma in not joining in the festivities.
Could you be strong and say no?
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