EVEN THOUGH I WILL NOT BE RETURNING BACK TO COLLEGE THIS SEMESTER, THIS TOPIC IS STILL ON MY MIND AND ONE THAT IS VERY NEAR AND DEAR TO MY HEART.
I turned 22 this summer, and have been reflecting a lot recently on my relationship with alcohol. Having alcohol readily available to me has been a theme for the past four years. It’s no secret that binge drinking on college campuses is a great epidemic, and more prevalent than ever. This kind of culture has led to phrases like “Can’t wait to blackout tonight” or “I don’t remember anything,” and so on. Unfortunately, these kind of phrases that are tossed around casually can actually lead to really dangerous and harmful situations.
Every time I drink alcohol, especially in large amounts, I wake up the next morning feeling absolutely awful. And I remember why it is that I hate alcohol so much. It really is a double-edged sword for someone like me. I am naturally an introvert, and I tend to be quieter and more reserved, especially towards people I am just meeting. Because of this reason, at social functions where I’m in a situation that requires meeting new people or a lot of interaction, I usually reason with myself that it is okay to drink more than normal. This will help me open up, be more outgoing, spontaneous and fun, I tell myself.
Drinking in the moment is fun and all, and luckily, I have reached a point in my life where I understand my limit with alcohol and I am able to not take it over the top. When I drink, I have control over my body and my actions and I do not black out. Unfortunately, I learned what “blacking out” feels like when I woke up in the hospital my junior year of high school.
Time for a little story time. This gets a personal, but what’s the point of a blog if you don’t get a little personal right?
My junior year of high school was a time where I was still dealing with disordered thoughts towards food and exercise. Because of this, I was very, very skinny. I was probably around 115 pounds and exercised excessively every day.
New Years Eve of junior year, I was going to a house party with my best friend. I had experimented a little bit with alcohol, but just a few sips or one drink at most. I remember having a water bottle filled with vodka and bringing it with me to the party. I remember taking a shot with a girl I barely knew. I remember the first five minutes of the party, and the rest is absolute blackness.
About an hour into the party, I fell into someone’s arms and was carried out of the party. It was below freezing outside, and I was wearing a dress that night.
I was transported to the hospital and diagnosed with severe alcohol intoxication as well as hypothermia. When you are drunk, you do not realize how cold it really is.
Waking up the next day was probably the worst experience and feeling of my entire life thus far. You probably can imagine. Imagine a headache on steroids.
The worst part about this story is that it didn’t just happen once, but twice. I am very embarrassed to share this, but I think that it was an essential part of my learning and growth as a person.
That summer, July 4th to be exact, I was drinking at a house party. The previous experience was scary, but I didn’t really fully “get” it. I knew I drank too much, and it was a bad idea, but I didn’t really get that my body physically could not handle hard liquor. There was a boy I liked and he asked me if I wanted some of his drink, which was gin. I said yes, so that he would think I was cool and kept taking swigs out of his bottle. Before I knew it, I was passed out in the Falmouth hospital. My dad had to get out of bed to drive down and make sure I was okay. This experience was so bad, I was so drunk, that they literally did not know if I would wake up.
My mom later told me that she was on the phone with my doctor, and asked him this simple question: “Is she going to be okay?” and he responded: “I do not know.”
I was still very underweight at this point and exercising frequently. I just wanted to have a fun night. I wanted to be the girl that was wanted, carefree and exciting to be around. Turns out, pretending to be someone else really backfired on me.
I could have died that day. But I did not. And for this, I am infinitely grateful to take another breath.
I woke up the next morning feeling like I was dead, though. My dad had driven me from the Falmouth hospital at around 5am that morning, and I slept until noon the next day. I didn’t even want to go downstairs. I didn’t even want to see the look of disappointment on my parents faces. I knew they would never be able to look at me the same.
Why should you limit how much you drink?
Alcohol is a serious cause of weight gain. There are virtually zero health benefits of alcohol, and the calories are essentially empty calories. It is very high in refined carbohydrate and messes up your insulin levels. It contributes to heart disease, diabetes, insomnia, anxiety, and more. Over this past winter break when I did not drink any alcohol besides on New Years and one other Friday night, my body was at its peak performance. I was exercising twice a day, and never felt better with my health. Alcohol will hinder your progress in the gym, especially when you are consuming it several times a week.
Here are my top tips to avoid alcohol, if you are craving it or going to a social event:
1) It is easy to make non-alcohol drinks fun and fresh. Use some seltzer to make the drink bubbly and add natural fruit flavorings, a splash of cranberry juice, pineapple juice, or orange juice to make the drink taste fruity and delicious. Add some ice and it looks like you have a cocktail in your hand. Sometimes when you are at a social gathering and have no drink, you may feel kind of awkward. To avoid this, make your own zero alcohol mixed drink and no one will ask any questions.
2) If your friends want to do nothing but drink to have fun, consider who you’re hanging out with. Maybe it’s time to meet a new group of people, perhaps someone who loves yoga or running, and likes to participate in the healthy activities you like. Ultimately, your friends should accept whatever choice you decide to make in terms of alcohol consumption and not make you feel bad about it, or like you’re a loser. These people are not your real friends.
3) Get yourself into other habits that do not involve drinking. What else makes you feel good? Is it photography, taking a bubblebath, playing with your dog, cooking brownies? It doesn’t matter what it is…literally just think about what would make you feel good. No temporary high here-only an activity that genuinely makes you feel happy inside to out.
4) As I mentioned before, your friends and family should be supporting you no matter what. If you have a problem with alcohol, you need to talk to someone who knows how to help. A lot of people struggle with this issue and it is not something to be ashamed of. It is a disease that requires treatment. If you ever want to reach out to me, I am always here to talk to you.
I understand that this post is different than what I normally talk about on my platform, but nonetheless, this topic is one that is so, so important to me. Unfortunately, due to my family history and genetics, I am prone to having problems with alcohol. Because of my past experiences, and the fact I almost lost my life, I take this very seriously. It’s not worth messing around with. Alcohol doesn’t make you feel good and you don’t need it to be fun. There is no shame in choosing not to drink and we need to end the stigma around it.
Nowadays, I am 22 years old and beyond the legal limit. Ironically, now that drinking is technically “legal” to me, I hardly ever drink. I don’t like how it makes me feel. I like feeling like myself because I like who I am and I am confident in the person I have become. I like feeling in control of my body and like I have the energy to take on the day. Please note I am not trying to talk down to anyone who does drink a lot. I am just sharing my experience and shedding some light on my views. Thanks for reading.