Drunk me is still me
Online Lifestyle Editor, Amy Butterworth, explores her relationship with alcohol and muses on drinking in moderation
My relationship with alcohol has been an awfully long and winding passage, much comparable to the swirly straw you always hope to get with your piña colada (just me?) However, my alcohol experience now leaves me with a bitter taste in my mouth, and that isn’t entirely from the rum in my glass.
Whether you drink or not, alcohol is ubiquitous at university. We are all aware of its function as social lubrication – it encourages a slackening of the jaw, making it the perfect poison for incoming freshers. We all anticipate a similar fate upon arriving at fresher’s week: alcohol incessantly coursing through our veins, blood-alcohol concentration at an all-time high. Reality only sinks in when having to be escorted home by a thoughtful friend; you recognise that you are indeed the silly fresh.
But a long time has passed since the days of first year antics; instead, the end of second year has given me the opportunity to truly reflect on the year gone by – was I the person I wanted to be, can I say that I made the right choices etcetera – and the crux: how alcohol comes into the equation.
You can have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol without being an alcoholic
For a multitude of reasons, I could see myself falling into a dangerous pattern of dependency, and for a hot second, I was beginning to rely on that feeling of losing control. In drunk logic, morally questionable actions can be justified because I’m in a drunken stupor. It’s self-destructive, and I could see how it was putting a toll on some personal relationships. Waking up with not only a hangover but a long list of people I need to apologise to (via text to avoid the embarrassment of seeing them in person) was becoming a rapidly recurring issue. And even worse, is having to apologise for something you don’t even recall doing.
Whenever I mention this to people, they often respond with something on the lines of “who hasn’t made some drunken mistakes”, often accompanied by a disregarding shrug. And with the normalisation surrounding binge-drinking at university especially in Britain (an NUS survey found that 76 percent of students say there’s an expectation for them to drink to get drunk), I wonder, at what point do we draw the line? When does it become a problem?
DrinkAware would ask us to reflect on two things: when you start drinking, can you stop? and do you obsess over when your next drink will be? Thus, I don’t think I have a problem, but I was certainly falling into bad habits. You can have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol without being an alcoholic.
Dolly Alderton, author of The Sunday Times best-seller “Everything I Know About Love” finds herself in a similar conundrum- her experience with alcohol isn’t debilitating, but she realised she had a problem when her one day a week without drinking gave her the false “audacity to feel smug”. And, much like her, I live life and experience everything in a (problematically) uncompromising, unyielding, “all-or-nothing” way. Either I’m drinking to the point of oblivion or not at all.
However, moderation is what Alderton preaches. While the percentage of young people who are teetotal has risen by 32 percent, I will not be following suit of those Gen Zers. In order to have learnt anything, I need to reconceptualise my relationship with alcohol; the goal must no longer be “drink enough to forget my drunken actions as to not hold accountability for them- If I can’t remember, did I actually do it?” (the answer: yes, yes you did). The goal instead needs to be me in control, and wanting to be in control.
I drink because I like the warmth in my tummy, and as it makes its way to my head, gives me the confidence to be comfortable and apologetically myself. Finding this sweet spot before it mutates into rash decisions, snide comments and ultimately, regret, is essential if I want to better myself as a person. Because like it or not, drunk me is still me.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article, the following resources are available:
Reed Mews Wellbeing Centre
0800 9177 650
0300 123 1110