Originally posted onto Tastemakercollectivemedia.com 12/4/15
A PSA written by a man who doesn’t endorse binge drinking at any age.
Chug! Chug! Chug! Chug! This is what you will hear coming from any basement-keg-stand-frat-party full of inebriated 20 year olds. There are a few over age drinkers present (who do you think actually bought all that lukewarm beer?), but when you think of that beer keg party, do you really think of a lot of legally aged responsible drinking is happening? We didn’t think so either. The sad reality here, is that many of these party participants are very much oblivious to how to drink. That is, knowing themselves and how much they can handle until they just aren’t themselves anymore. How much can you drink and not black out? How much can you drink and not be completely impaired to the point of falling over? How much can you drink before you start dialing up all of your exes? How much can you drink and still be you? Bottom line, how can you honestly know yourself without spending time practicing getting to know yourself and your limits?
There are many U.S. laws that have been enacted and redacted and enacted again over the years all the way back to the prohibition era (that’s the 1920s and ‘30s for you non-historical folks). With the legal drinking age currently being over age 21 (that is, the legal BUYING age. You technically can drink all you want as an infant but you just won’t be sold liquor while you’re still in a crib, or with a vertical drivers license for that matter), that leaves a lot of time for people to be excluded from the classroom of life when it comes to learning about yourself in a social setting where libations are handy. The more time spent getting to know themselves, the better in control these people will be when they actually can drink.
Drinking responsibly takes practice. It does! Practice makes perfect, isn’t that what your mother and violin teacher always told you? Drinking is like anything else you do in life: you practice it because you want to get better at it, because there are downsides and pitfalls that come with the territory and if one wants to participate in the activity that is getting s**t-faced, then they should be aware of what’s coming.
Learning earlier on means more experience for the years ahead.
Everyone reacts different, and you can’t always go off of second hand information throughout your life. Your friends can possibly intake 5 times more alcohol than you can, or five times less for that matter. Question is, how are you going to find out what your limit is until you hit that “too much” mark? The more time spent with it, the better of a handle you’ll have for it.
Because I was told not to do it, I must do it.
When you first get into college, or even high school, the most rebellious things you can do (or at least get told to do by the friends your parents don’t want you to have) is to do one of the following three things: have sex, get drunk, and do drugs. Why are these three things specifically on everyone’s potential naughty list? It’s because everyone’s constantly told not to do these things while growing up (Most likely. If you had parents that were chill about the before mentioned things, then you had those parents that other kids would have killed for).
We strive to commit those naughty crimes while growing up for the sole reason of spite. We were told not to do it. So what do we wanna do? DO IT.
“I was told not to, and always have been. But hell, what do my parents know… they don’t understand what’s going on in my life.” To be a rebel and feel the freedom and liberation that comes from being “bad”. We step over that line because we have to learn this lesson ourselves. Trying to explaining a bad hangover to someone who has never had one is like trying to describe “red” to a blind person. They just have to have one to understand and appreciate just what joy it is to not have one when you wake up. You learn from mistakes, and over drinking is one of them. The longer it takes for someone to get up on that horse and start trying and failing, the more damage they might get themselves into when they finally get the chance to get started.
Suck away the oxygen from the flame, then there’s no fire.
With the same token of drinking just to be rebellious, we can reverse it. Take away the fire that we all feel to break the rules and make it within the rules. “Kids, you may now drink. Purchase your own alcohol, and enjoy the great sorrow that is a hangover. Have fun.” With this message being broadcasted, drinking to be rebellious is no longer a possibility. Can’t be a rebel if you aren’t breaking any rules now, can ya?
Teenagers don’t have that many real reason to drink just yet.
18 year olds don’t have problems that are equivalent to wanting to day drink at a dusty dive-bar located in a strip mall. They just haven’t reached the opportunity of having those real world weighted problems of having alimonies to pay, job loss, and the crushing depression of having all four of your kids not wanting to spend Christmas with you because they hate the thought of you. They just don’t have real problems just yet. Those college applications that need to be finished but can’t because that Spanish quiz is tomorrow in fourth period, and that messy breakup with Suzy from homeroom really is the only negative reason they have to make that 18 year old want to binge drink at 3:37 in the afternoon. To the kid thinking about doing that: hang in there, it gets better.
So primarily, why do underage folks drink? Primarily, it’s because they think it’s cool to be rebellious. Law says they shouldn’t be drinking. Parents say they shouldn’t be drinking. But what if all that was flipped?
Pretend, just for a moment, that it would be legal for 18 year olds and up to purchase liquor and alcohol. The world certainly would go crazy for a few years due to all the high school aged rioters drunkenly stumbling throughout the streets, but once the craze dies down and the legal drinking age being 18 settles in as common knowledge, then there would be less of a desire to rage when they all get into college which is when pretty much all of their first alcoholic situations turn dangerous because their parents aren’t always around to save the day anymore.
In short, take the stimulus of wanting to drink away, and the desire to do so will eventually follow. Reverse psychology my friends. It works on children, and it will work on teenagers who want to drink.