As we grow up, even as kids, everywhere we look we see advertisements for alcohol; we see our parents enjoying a glass of wine with their dinner and we hear people talking of the many ‘drunk’ occasions in which they embarrassed themselves.
When we reach our teens, the pressure to try this mystifying substance suddenly becomes much more apparent, needless to say that we ourselves are very curious and will probably try it even with the slightest encouragement. Suddenly, alcohol becomes something which defines everything people our age do – it becomes a necessary medium for socializing and entertainment. The question is, why is it so popular, and is there a way to drink alcohol but avoid trouble?
For those who have never drank before, or perhaps have never really had much of an experience with alcohol, it can essentially be compared to a very strong painkiller. If you have one drink, it won’t make much of a difference. Your liver will process it, try and get rid of the bad stuff, and you’ll digest whatever else it contains. But your liver won’t be able to keep up if you’re having one drink after the another, especially if you’re relatively new to drinking. At some point, the side effects begin to kick in.
Alcohol numbs and slows down every part of the body. It starts off with physical sensation, so you won’t feel pain as sharply, and moreover, your reactions are slowed, so it’s easier to stumble or walk sideways. But more importantly, alcohol also slows the brain. When you are under the influence, even after a couple of drinks, you begin to notice a difference, usually categorized by higher levels of confidence, feeling like you can say or do anything to anyone; or simply being brutally honest.
This may not sound like a huge problem to anybody, and the fact is, it isn’t, up until this point. It is beyond this point that alcohol can become dangerous and have nasty consequences. People who get drunk can lose all control; do things they regret, embarrass themselves and above all risk more than they want to. A normally promising girl, stumbling and tripping and messing up her words, is not a pretty sight. Moreover, the drunker you get, the easier it is to accept even more drinks. This is a vicious circle that can never end well.
So what can YOU do to avoid getting into sticky situations? There is no way anyone, particularly me being a teenager myself, can sit here and tell you to abstain from alcohol completely. It would be stupid and ineffective. What it really comes down to is knowing your limits. If and when you are in contact with alcohol and you feel like a drink, set yourself boundaries. Make sure that after three or four drinks, or when you start to feel the effects, you move on to water, or take a good half an hour break before drinking anything else. Always remember that being in control is the most important thing; once you are out of control, you are vulnerable to all sorts of things. If you keep this frame of mind you should be encouraged to stay within the boundaries you have created. Also, try to have fun without alcohol – that way you can never be dependent on it.
In no way is alcohol the only thing that teenagers can turn to in order to enjoy themselves; it is just many people’s perceptions of it that make us think that way. Some people drink more than others and once you learn your boundaries, drinking can become an enjoyable but controlled experience. Also, don’t worry about overdoing it at some point- we all do, but I can assure you that the terrible hangover you experience the next day will put you off drinking like that again for a long, long time.