Why The Best Thing This Generation Can Do Is Put Down The Drink
I don't know about you, but when Friday morning rolls around, I already have the taste of an ice-cold beer in my mouth.
Thoughts of the warmth in my throat and the fuzziness in my head that'll come with my first sip tantalize me on my way out the door, preparing me to sprint the hell out of my office as soon as 5 pm rolls around.
This can happen during the week, too. If I have plans to get a drink with my girlfriends on a Tuesday, I'll spend a good chunk of time during the day on Tuesday deciding whether I'm in the mood for a rosé or a white wine. I'll actually fantasize about how good it'll taste.
All of this makes me sound like an alcoholic. But I'm not. I'm just a Millennial who spent four years transitioning from teenager to adult in an environment where taking multiple shots of Fireball in 10 minutes was the norm, and I've carried that mentality with me to my real post-grad adulthood, where "Let's get a drink!" is the only way to tell someone that you want to hang out.
If it seems as if everyone you know is an alcoholic these days, it's kind of true. According to a recent study posted in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, nearly three out of 10 Americans have experienced severe alcohol-related problems at one point in their lives, and Alcohol Use Disorder, which is defined as a combination of the two separate conditions of "alcohol dependence" and "alcohol abuse," affects a staggering 29.1 percent of all Americans.
I realize, of course, that if the fear-inducing DARE program did little to stop us from sneaking beer out of our parents' fridges in middle school, these statistics are downright hopeless now.
Try telling the 18-year-old who just wants fit in at her first party in college or the 24-year-old who "needs a drink" after a long day of work to stop drinking. They, like I would, would tell you to loosen up and have a drink.
But really, the best thing this generation can do is put down the damn drink.
Drinking f*cks with who you are on a fundamental level.
Alcohol completely f*cks with your sense of logic and of what's right and wrong. We all know this, but it's worth the reminder of just how deep it goes.
I was a bit late to the drinking game, so I used to think that alcohol literally made you lose control and forced you to do things you didn't want to do. Once I started really drinking in college, I realized that alcohol doesn't do that.
No, it goes way, way, way deeper than that.
Alcohol convinces you that things you know you don't want to do are things that you actually do want to do.
It gets deep inside of your brain, messes with your mental thought processes and makes you genuinely believe that things you know are wrong are right.
That's how it manipulates you into doing really irresponsible sh*t, into acting in ways you never thought you could possibly act or saying things you never thought you could say (or have the guts to say).
It fundamentally changes you and f*cks with the years upon years of your life that you spent figuring out your own moral code.
And for some reason, we love this. We love not being ourselves.
It might be fun to release our inhibitions every once in awhile, but if you spend your entire life relying on alcohol to socialize, is it YOU who’s socializing -- or is it the alcohol?
If you constantly need a drink to socialize, your real personality will never have a chance to develop.
Drinking might allow you to have fun at the bar with your friends, but just know that your friends aren't having fun with you -- they're having fun with an alcohol-induced version of you.
What's left of you once you remove the alcohol? Nothing. And that's a surefire way to never, ever like yourself.
Scientifically, you will literally never "need a drink."
You already know from DARE that alcohol damages your insides. I also already know that's not enough to convince you of the dangers of drinking.
Perhaps this might. One thing we all like saying in the midst of a stressful situation is that we "need a drink." But all the times you "need a drink" to quell your anxiety are actually making you more anxious.
A 2012 study reveals that drinking alcohol actually makes you less capable of coping with anxiety.
Over the course of a month, researchers gave mice doses of alcohol equivalent to twice the legal drinking limit for humans.
At the end of the month, researchers ran a series of tests to compare those mice's reactions to stressful behaviors to the reactions of normal mice.
What they found was shocking: The alcohol literally rewired the mice's brain to make them unable to deal with stressors on their own.
Turns out that when you depend on alcohol to reduce stress, you actually create even more stress.
This has dangerous implications. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism's classification of "binge drinking," which is four drinks if you're a woman or five drinks if you're a man in two hours, is already laughable to us -- the NIAAA has clearly never been to a college pre-game or a bachelorette party -- but we really should start listening.
It's no secret that one "drink" you "need" to quell your anxiety accumulates to multiple "drinks." And since we all already surpass the number of "drinks" needed to classify ourselves as binge drinkers, our intake of alcohol can only go up from here.
So, the more you drink to try to deal with life, the less you're able to actually deal with life -- and the more you need to drink.
Alcohol is a tricky motherf*cker.
Drinking is fun... until it's not.
Look, drinking is fun. It makes us Millennials feel so very adult, despite the fact that our actual age should be sufficient enough to make us feel that way.
It's still somehow really cool to be the guy who "knows beer" and the girl who orders whiskey on the rocks.
When you're drunk, all you know is that you're really f*cked up and your inhibitions are down, down, down, so it's fun. Alcohol makes us feel sophisticated, loose, daring, bold -- free.
But it also can make us feel immature and out of control.
After a night of drinking, when you wake up the next morning with your head pounding, bile rising in your throat and the overwhelming feeling that a huge chunk of your evening didn't happen or that you don't know who the hell you were last night, you'll feel guilty, mortified and embarrassed.
We're all familiar with this feeling. Who knows what you did, what you said, what else you put into your body? Who knows where you ended up, what dangerous situation you put yourself into?
What action did you firmly believe was wrong that alcohol tricked you into thinking was actually right? Think about the implications of that. They're f*cking petrifying.
Next time you want to drink, maybe you should try a ginger ale instead. Just this one time. I promise you'll thank you later.