I can’t say that I’ve experimented with addictive substances all that much. The odd bit of weed here and there, but please point me in the direction of someone who would say otherwise. I don’t smoke regularly. Whilst travelling last year, I had some MDMA, and the comedown – which left me sobbing on a walk through the jungle, before running madly down a dock clutching my backpack to catch the last boat of the day off an island where I’d stayed far too long – convinced me that I definitely don’t want to try that again. Like most students, I drink, but not regularly enough that I’d at all call it a problem. However, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t had some experiences which have driven home just how damaging alcohol can be to your relationships with other people. I don’t count the few times when I’ve gotten too drunk and wandered off without telling the girls.
One of my closest friends before university, for reasons like family troubles and confidence issues, became far too reliant on alcohol. We all like a night out now and again, but once we realised that she was regularly drinking a bottle of wine on her own at home, we started to get worried. The problem with this kind of thing is that it’s so easy to brush off, and for a long time, we had to accept her excuses and wave away our concerns. Unfortunately, with our group having split off to different universities, I don’t know that much about how she’s dealing with things and whether alcohol is an issue for her at the moment.
the PROBLEM with this kind of thing is that it’s so easy to brush off
My second experience of being affected by someone’s problems with alcohol is a little more recent, and more upsetting. For a couple of years, I’ve had something of a tumultuous relationship with a male friend who not only used to drink far too much, but dealt as well as used a lot of drugs. He stopped drinking and having much to do with drugs completely before coming to university (aside from, his words, “the odd bit of coke”… Right.) He got way too into Freshers Week and ended up staying in a pretty awful mentality far into the year. Didn’t do any work and drank far too much. Unfortunately, this also had a dreadful effect on his behaviour and I could see his flatmates quickly tiring of him.
One night, we ended up back at his as he was in no state to make it to the club, but despite being pretty drunk myself, I could see he was out of control. That was the first time I was ever scared of him, and his behaviour towards me then was disrespectful and bordering on violent. Despite what I tried to tell myself, drunkenness is never an excuse for that.
Becoming reliant on alcohol or drugs makes us distance ourselves from those who care about us, and significantly skews our priorities. It’s easy to shrug off our friends’ concerns, but we need to remember that our actions do affect the people who love and care about us. If you’re struggling with alcohol or drug abuse, there are a number of sources both on and off campus where you can seek advice – for your sake and others’, please don’t keep your struggles to yourself.