So here we are the dawn of a new year. 2018 is just a few hours old. People throughout the world woke up hungover and wondering did they make a holy show of themselves last night.
Many years ago, pre children, that was me! How did I end up drinking to excess EVERY time I went out? As a child alcohol was prohibited. There were no little sips to try beer or wine. Even at 18 my Mother was disgusted when I got a part time job in a bar. Prospective professional people didn’t frequent bars. Even if it was to work in them. My parents never got drunk. We saw them drinking, a glass or two of wine here and there. A gin and tonic or a whiskey the odd evening here and there. Nothing excessive at all.
Needless to say though as soon as I was allowed to, OK, once I was old enough to be served and didn’t have to go home I started drinking. As with most teens it wasn’t just a couple of drinks.
I can still remember the first time I got so drunk I threw up. I was 16 years old and the boarding school let us sign out to go to the pub. I’m guessing it was better to have us tell the truth about our whereabouts in case they had to find us. My friend Mark and I signed ourselves out to the Cotswold Arms and off we went.
“I’ll get the chasers, you get the beers!” he said
We sat down and downed the Old Navy Rums he’d bought and then drank our pints. The next round we swapped. I bought the rum he bought the pints.
I couldn’t tell you how many we drank. I do know we were late back to the boarding house and were summoned to the Boarding Masters office.
He proceeded to give out to us, mentioning we were underage, known pupils of the school and had better be up for breakfast. (I’m not a morning person!)
A quick stop in the kitchen for some toast and milk and off to bed I went. Once in bed I performed the clinging on to the spinning bed position for a few minutes before it got too much and I ran to the sink. Promptly throwing the contents of my stomach up!
Luckily I woke to my alarm and was up dressed and ready for school before the boarding master came round to wake us. No more was said about the incident.
Did it put me off drinking to excess? No it didn’t. Did it stop me bowing to peer pressure and downing shorts, pints and alcopops? No it didn’t.
I have to admit I don’t like getting drunk. Never really have. I have difficulty saying no. A common trait in adoptees, so went along with the crowd. Being shy and socially awkward alcohol also helped turn me into the out going, friendly person I thought I should be.
Nowadays I’ll have a drink or two at home and if I can’t get out of going out I end up reverting to that stupid teenager and going along with the crowd. Thankfully this is once in a blue moon! More often than not I am the designated driver. A role I’m happy to perform.
I see the youth of today doing the same as we did, and the generations of teens since.
Alcohol causes so much pain and heartache. Is at the root of much domestic violence. Wastes health service time and money not to mention the police resources used dealing with alcohol related incidents.
So why after years and years of alcohol abuse have we not learnt? Why do we still not drink responsibly? Why are there still road deaths caused by drink drivers?
In many, many other cultures they do not have the problems with excessive drinking that we do?
In our culture if you say no to a drink you are called a lightweight, dry shite, boring and a host of other names. It seems any event is cause to get the drink out. Births, deaths, marriages, communions, confirmations, Christmas, New Year and then there’s sporting events, birthdays etc
Here in Ireland the pubs are closed on Good Friday. All this means is that on the Thursday before, the supermarkets are filled with people buying drink ready for the next day.
The teen turned 14 last year and is now asking for a drink at family and special occasions. So far I’ve been following the route my parents took. No alcohol until you are 18. Is this the right attitude? Would allowing him a drink or two give him a better relationship with alcohol? Does is make any difference as when he hits 18 and can go to the pub with his friends they are more than likely going to drink to excess anyway.
Is there a failsafe way of getting our teens to drink responsibly?