I know what you’re thinking. Here’s another person that probably doesn’t even drink, telling me I should be doing less of it. Mmm… not quite. Despite being the child of an alcoholic, I still partake in going out and drinking with my friends from time to time.
These things combined with me working at a job that is specifically meant to drive my drunk college classmates home on the weekends, I think it’s fair to say I’ve seen all sides of this story.
This list isn’t here as a judgement or a critique, or even to say it’s time to go to an AA meeting, but rather to encourage you to look at your own behaviors and consider whether it’s time to cut back.
1. You’re Experiencing Blackouts
You know the stories. “Hey remember that one time you got so drunk that we had to take you to the hospital?” or “Yo, remember when you puked all over yourself in that Saferide?” These sound like funny stories you or your friends might tell, but in actuality it’s not cute. The fact that you got so drunk so fast that you caused alcohol-induced amnesia in your brain isn’t something to laugh about. A lot of people drink to loosen up and socialize, but what’s the point in going out if other people have to take care of you, or you can’t remember it?
2. You’ve Been Getting Hurt
So you fell down while trying to climb in a window because you forgot your keys, what’s the big deal? Besides the fact you thought that’d be a good idea, most people don’t come home bruised and banged up after a night out. Sure it’s just a scraped knee this time, but it could be a broken bone or cracked skull the next. Of course accidents happen, but this shouldn’t be something you consider a normal occurrence.
3. You’re Using Alcohol to Deal with Problems
Sure, reaching for a large pint after a long day can be nice, but it becomes an issue when it happens every day, or for other reasons. Especially with people who struggle with anxiety and mental health issues, it can become a dangerous habit to say, “I’ll have this drink to relax me”, until one or two is longer enough.
People who are already struggling with their mental health might find these issues exasperated. Instead of honestly looking at their problems, they use drinking to avoid what’s going on in their lives.
4. You Feel Like You Have to Hide You’re Drinking
It’s not normal to feel like it’s necessary to lie about how much you’ve had to drink or that you’ve been drinking at all. Alcohol can be a fun way socialize and connect with other people, but isn’t a requirement for getting through the day.
5. You’ve Been Making Bad Decisions
This could be anything from skipping class because you’re hungover, to driving drunk, or to having unprotected sex with a stranger. Prioritizing alcohol over people in your life, your goals, your responsibilities, and your personal safety is dangerous. Alcohol companies aren’t kidding when they write “drink responsibly” on the side of that bottle you’re drinking out of. You can call something bad happening one time a mistake, but more than that is a choice.
6. People Around You Tell You It’s Time to Slow Down
More often than not your friends and family will have your best interest in mind. When your friends tell you it’s time to slow down or stop it’s not because they’re trying to embarrass or attack you, but because they want you to be safe, or because they “know how you get” (this idea in itself should be a red flag that something is amiss).
7. You’ve Been Aggressive
Trust me I’ve been there. When your drinking you feel like you’re on top of the world and you could totally fight any person in this bar. I think it should be said however that being drunk is not an excuse to be an asshole. Being drunk is not excuse to treat people poorly. It’s not okay for you to scream at your best friend or hit your boyfriend in the face because you’re drunk. You don’t get to treat people poorly and not take responsibility for your actions.
8. You’re Blowing Your Budget on Booze
It’s hard managing money in college, especially since most of us have so little of it. College loans and paying rent and tuition make it so that a lot of us are living virtually paycheck to paycheck, and what’s left we should be saving for other things we want or need. Sure it can be cheap to buy a twelve-dollar bottle of vodka but if you’re doing that every other week, plus paying cover charges, buying mixed drink at the bars, and maybe taking an Uber or Lyft home it can all add up quickly.
9. Your Health is Suffering
Whether it’s worsening your mental health issues or maybe causing some weight gain, cutting back on alcohol can be great for your body. There’s plenty of studies that show giving up alcohol can help with having better skin, losing weight, and sleeping better. Cutting back can help improve all areas of your physical and mental health.
10. You’ve Told Yourself This Won’t Happen Again
Whether it’s binge drinking on a weeknight, or waking up somewhere unfamiliar, you might’ve found yourself saying you’ll never make that mistake again. Until you do. And then that mistake turns into a habit, and then the norm. It’s hard to accept that you might have a problem, but chances are if you do, you already know it.