Stop Glamorizing Alcoholic Behaviors

Leaving college without getting a visit from the “going to class still drunk” fairy is a rare happy ending. Whether it’s throwing up in the middle of your shift (who knew that $5 dollar vodka could taste even worse the second time), taking a shot before that nerve-racking Business Thought presentation, or partaking in the infamous college tradition of day drinking (gotta love mimosas), college culture continues to brainwash generations of unsuspecting teens into believing alcoholic behaviors can be glamourous. Want to put vodka in the water bottle you take to class? No problem! Think spending four out of seven days drunk is a good idea? College does, too! Feeling sad about the breakup with the boy across the hall? Don’t worry, you’re best pal Tequila has got you covered.

Drinking is as casual and normalized as not studying for the Bio exam that’s worth 20% of your grade. You drink with your roommates. You drink with your friends. You drink with your family, and even strangers at bars. There’s underage drinking, and binge drinking, and stress-drinking, and study drinking (Don’t forget the coined phrase “write drunk, edit sober.”) Alcohol is everywhere, and no one seems to bat an eye. But what we all seem to forget is that drinking is supposed to be celebratory. Drinking is not an escape. It’s not a problem-solver. It’s not a way to cure anxiety, or depression, or insecurity. It’s not a quirky personality trait or a popular trend. It shouldn’t make an appearance in your morning coffee (Bailey’s and rum is NOT a good idea), nor should it make an appearance during stressful times or times of tragedy.

They don’t call alcohol a depressant for no reason. In fact, alcohol is proven to exacerbate symptoms of depression the next day. Yep, you heard it here first. Forget about hangover nausea and headaches, that gin and tonic can actually make you feel more depressed than sober you ever has. According to Clearview Treatment Programs, because alcohol has a “sedative effect on your brain,” those few beers which seemed to “relieve stress and make you feel more relaxed and calm…can actually put you at an increased risk of depression.”

So why do we continue to drink as if it will solve our problems? Because society tells us it will. Unfortunately, because alcohol has been the epicenter of our social culture for the majority of our history, beer, and wine, and vodka seem to operate under their own separate rules. After all, alcohol isn’t nearly as bad as weed or other recreational drugs—said ever parent from Generation X ever.

Though I’ve seen this sentiment in the advice of my own parents, the liver and brain damage that alcohol causes often takes a back seat to the supposedly “life-ruining” effects that recreational drugs like marijuana have. It doesn’t matter that in 2015, 26.9 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the past month; nor does anyone ever acknowledge that according to the 2015 study by the NSDUH, “15.1 million adults ages 18 and older3 (6.2 percent of this age group4) had AUD (Alcohol Use Disorder)” (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism).

While drinking, like anything, is fine in moderation.  I do encourage us all to reframe our thinking surrounding alcohol, and realize that casual drinking is like playing with fire. Sure, somedays we may remain unscathed, but much like fire, the alcohol has the power—not us. And though spending 48 hours intoxicated may seem like innocent 18-year-old festivities, those harmless college nights may translate into alcoholic tendencies in adulthood.  

So remember, while 10 am drinking might be fun, no one likes a 10 am drunk. And as cute and trendy as hangovers might sound, they aren’t. Treat your body with respect, because glamourizing destructive habits is the stupidest idea since low-rise jeans.

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