I opened the door and the smell of vomit hit me immediately. It was so strong that I actually took a step back. I surveyed the room; there was a man passed out on the couch, another slumped against the cabinets in the kitchen, empty beer cans as far as the eye could see, and a 32 gallon outdoor trash can, tipped on it’s side in a pool of vomit.
It was two o’clock in the morning, and my best friend’s boyfriend had called, asking me to pick her up and ferry her home. His house looked like a cross between a frat party and the aftermath of a natural disaster, and my friend was buried somewhere in the rubble. I found her in the basement, barely conscious.
What I didn’t know is that she had consumed 72 shots of beer in 72 minutes while playing a drinking game called century club. That’s equivalent to nine beers in just over an hour — a hell of a lot for a hundred pound sixteen year old. It was enough to cause a case of alcohol poisoning.
We were lucky she didn’t die that night.
Almost losing her was a tipping point for me. While I had never been overly fond of alcohol, I decided I would never drink to the point of losing control or poisoning myself. So far, I’ve kept my promise. At 31, I’ve only been drunk three times, and even then I managed to keep my shit together. Unfortunately for me, I live in an alcohol obsessed country, and even the moderate drinker is eyed with suspicion.
Why Do We Drink?
America loves to drink — in fact, alcohol is our number one drug. While it can definitely be the center of good times, it’s also linked to murder, suicide, unemployment, sexual assault, and domestic violence. It’s behind 30 automobile accidents a day. It’s the most commonly used drug by teenagers. There’s no doubt about it, booze is incredibly dangerous when misused
Given the inherent dangers of alcohol, why do we still choose to drink?
We drink because it’s a tradition; our ancestors and forefathers drank, often with gusto. We drink because it tastes good — that is, once you’ve developed a taste for it. After all, there’s nothing nonalcoholic that tastes a good beer, whisky, gin, or quality wine. We drink to bond with coworkers, friends, family, and lovers. We drink because it feels good — causing feelings of energy, elation, excitement, and impulsivity.
Simply put, we drink because we like to. That is, some of us do…
Skepticism in the Face of Non-Drinkers
With American culture being so bound to alcohol, people tend to be incredibly suspect of non-drinkers. Refusing a drink leads to endless questions. Is it because of your religion? Are you in recovery? Are you the designated driver? Will it react badly to your medication? Are you a control freak?
How can you possibly have fun without drinking?
The question that should be posed in this situation is to the drinkers: Why the hell does it matter why someone chooses not to drink? The answer could be deeply personal, embarrassing, or even tragic — the fact is, it’s no one’s business. The next time someone tells you they don’t drink, smile and say, “okay!” Then carry on with business as usual.
The fact is, there’s room for all of us at the party — drinkers, non-drinkers, and everyone in between. America’s love affair with alcohol isn’t likely to change anytime soon. So, let’s raise a glass to the good times — even if that glass only contains cranberry and lime.