(Originally appeared in Mutant Renegade Zine #12, Fall 1999)
Many different people see drinking in many different ways. All cultures do it and all have some people who abstain from it. The reasons why people drink are obvious and easy to cite, however how valid are these reasons and is there really any right answer to if you should drink.
I have been drinking on and off for over half my life. I have felt both welcomed and shunned due to my drinking. It has helped to enhance good times and bring about some awful times. I have never had to face any serious consequences due to my drinking, except for getting in trouble with mum and dad. I have also passed through periods where I didn’t drink for more than a year, and at other times I have drank almost every night. Maybe I have hit upon a balance with the tempting elixir…but then again I could just be fooling myself one more time.
So, what does this say about drinking and me? Well, I think it shows that while excessive and uncontrolled drinking can be very hazardous, it can also bring about new experiences and perspectives on life. I would never suggest that everybody go out and get smashed just so they can have a new experience…but there is something to be said about living life and not just existing. There are consequences and risks to every action; you just have to know what your personal acceptable limits are. You can get smashed everynight if you don’t care about money, a job or your health. You can drink so that you don’t have to accept reality…but it will hit you back twice as hard. You can drink to let out a different personality…but the people you meet will never know the real you. Or you can drink because you want to and enjoy the pleasurable feeling as a trade off for the damage it is causing your body.
Personally I have a three-drink threshold. If I have three or less I’m fine and about the same as usual just a bit looser. After three drinks though I don’t want to stop. I keep drinking until my money is drained (I take a preset limit of money with me) or I start feeling too far gone. I have done some really stupid things in the past while drunk, but have refrained from them since. I have been lucky and have learned before anything major has happened. The worst consequences I’ve faced have been vomiting, damaging some friendships, burning a few bridges and making myself appear even more of an idiot than usual. If anything else has happened I’m not about to admit it right now…
Of course since everybody is different I cannot even pretend to project my experience on anybody else. All I can say is do what feels right. Most people I know drink and many drink in abundance. Everything in life has a trade-off, and the trick is finding the balance you are happy with. Nobody can decide that except you.