BITESIZED: We need to talk about alcohol

Is alcohol bad for you? Yep.

Is a culture that promotes binge drinking bad? Oh, heck yeah.

Do we know this? Yep, we all know.

Does it stop any of us? F*ck no.

So what’s the deal?

Alcohol, when looked at in both the physical and social impacts it can have on an individual, is right up there with crack cocaine and meth. So, why is one acceptable and the other two only for homeless crack fiends. So, reading like an excerpt straight out of my SOSC111 textbook that I never actually read, then sold for $20 in second year to buy a box, drugs (including alcohol, yes) are a “social construct”. It is the social and cultural dimensions of society that construct how the impacts of drugs and alcohol are viewed. Pretty much, our drinking culture is one that downplays the negative impacts of binge drinking and a culture that supports it.

But, with all that said, us at BITESIZED aren’t here to condone binge drinking, that would be hypocritical. We aren’t even here to criticise the culture, we’re just here to talk about it. Maybe also here to talk about how it is maybe not the best when a person’s whole life can be defined by their drinking and how this is reflected by our culture. With crate day genuinely being one of our most anticipated ‘holidays’, it gives us as a country some form of personality, whether it is a positive one is yet to be seen.

Yes, our drinking culture is damaging, but realistically the impacts of it are evident person-to-person. Why are some people more prone to problematic binge drinking, compared to an “acceptable” level, or those who just don’t drink. Problem drinking and mental health are definitely linked. Do you often drink to blackout and wake up with regrets? That’s not good fam. Do you drink when you’re sad or angry? Do you find it hard to socialise when you aren’t drinking?

It doesn’t take more than a quick browse of memes (on-par with analysis of academic journals) to see the online culture growing that both trivialises and normalises feelings of anxiety depression and self-medication, through alcohol or drugs. Whether this is a good or bad thing, is again, yet to be seen, but it does highlight many cultural problems. The problem with the normalisation of such behaviour is that exactly, it is normalised.

One beer isn’t bad and six isn’t the end of the world, but if you’re drinking four beers on a night and your friends say you turn into a different person, it could be time to assess that situation. It’s all well and good to have a few nights where you go out and sink a few with the boys or cocktail it up with the ladies, but when it starts to affect your family, work or friends is when it would be responsible to reel it in. People just trying to get home or having a quiet night in shouldn’t feel the consequences of you having a few too many VB’s.

Of course when you read that, you’re thinking of drunk people being loud, over-friendly and sometimes aggressive. While we are addressing that, we also want to address the friends that are often forgotten at the time you order your fourth pint. Spending that extra money on alcohol instead of that lunch you promised your girlfriend or that surprise trip to see your mum and dad on the long weekend may be something that hits home for a few of us; and it really boils down to prioritising the drink over our family and friends.

Often we’ll feel the peer pressure of drinking too. We can guarantee you, contrary to popular opinion, if you’re sober while your friends are drinking at a party or a pub; you may not get invited out anymore. The reason they may give is that “they’re not really fun” or “they make it awkward”, when you’re really just trying to order a sprite at the pub. When that sort of peer pressure occurs, it could be hard to decline a trip to the pub with your friend who will call you a bitch for the rest of the night if you don’t attend.

With whatever option you choose, we do encourage you to be responsible before and after the drink. Look at your bank account before you go out and see if you still have enough money to pay those bills. Set yourself a limit.

Call it quits after a certain amount, because no one wants to feel like a potato with a headache while your friends are soaking up the sun at the beach the day after.

Most importantly, stay healthy.

Thomas & Kii