The Message In The Bottle: What We Should Learn From Poor Drinking Decisions

Nearly four years of college have translated into a lot of empty beer cans and liquor bottles. Along with these empties have come meaningful lessons.

All too often, drunken nights gone wrong are shoved into the depths of our memories. Maybe the night was too traumatic; maybe we told ourselves it would never happen again.

Whatever the reason, we chose “having fun” and continuing the same drinking patterns over rethinking our choices. The truth is, we can only push the limits so far. There are only so many poor decisions we can make before they catch up with us.

I made my most horrific alcohol-related mistake before I entered college or had even graduated from high school. I was 15 years old, and the first night of a summer camping trip with friends quickly turned bad. I drank more than any young girl should ever consume and woke up in a hospital room still highly intoxicated.

I felt ashamed and, even worse, I knew how much I had disappointed my parents. Afterward, I stayed away from drinking for a while, but that didn’t last forever. I learned moderation and never drank to that point again.

This lesson came before most people had even taken their first shot, but it was a lesson all the same. Many have their first tastes of alcohol when they make the transition into a college atmosphere.

During the first few months of college, there are generally heightened amounts of ambulances that rush to campuses to bring inebriated freshmen (and sometimes, upperclassmen) to the emergency room.

I noticed this freshman year and the pattern continued every subsequent year. There is always a slightly different explanation, but inexperienced drinkers and new friends make for a volatile combination.

These situations should get us thinking and help us to change our actions for the better. This summer was a turning point for me. I had been home for less than a month and got together with friends from my high school class. It was great to catch up and see what everyone was up to.

It started to get late when I decided to leave with my friend, Gina, since we both had work in the morning. As we were about to pull out of the driveway, I noticed two of my friends smoking in a parked car. I ran over to say goodbye but quickly noticed how intoxicated they both were.

Mike, who was sitting in the driver’s seat, said they were leaving. I told him not to; it wasn’t even his car he was driving. Before I could change his mind, he was reversing out of the long, uphill driveway.

Gina was waiting for me in her car. I got in and we both acknowledged how dangerous and reckless Mike driving was. We followed the SUV out of the driveway and it quickly went out of sight on the windy back roads.

I kept nervously looking at Gina. Why were they driving so fast? How did we lose them already? We were driving over the speed limit in an attempt to catch up, but had completely lost them.

We rounded a corner and saw the car. It was on its side, on the opposite side of the road.

I froze. I will never be able to explain the empty feeling in the pit of my stomach I had in that moment.

Gina and I got out of her car and ran over to the SUV. We watched as Mike pulled himself from the driver’s window. I still felt panic. What about John in the passenger seat? Is he okay?

We were all lucky that night. Both Mike and John pulled themselves from the SUV and suffered no injuries, but the sight of the accident was enough to scare me to my wits end.

Thoughts ran through my mind as I tried to go to sleep that night. So much more could have gone wrong. Even all that did happen could have been easily avoided.

It’s simple: Don’t drink and drive. For some reason, despite everyone advising against doing so, people still do it.

It’s not a game. It’s never the convenient option, and you definitely aren’t cool for doing it.

I appreciate the guy who texts me saying, “I really wish I could join you, but I had a few too many beers tonight," not the person who hops in a car, risking his or her life and the lives of others just because he or she is anxious to get to a desired destination.

With this, I challenge you to put down the beer can, take a second, and rethink your next potentially dangerous decision. There are far more reasons to make the responsible decision than there are to take the risk.

Photo via We Heart It