In response to SBS’s Insight program ‘Beer Goggles,’ I have reflected on my friends, family and my alcohol habits.
Being a poor university student, I am very price sensitive when it comes to choosing my pre-drinks of a Wednesday night. And seemingly, so is every other uni student, with Passion Pop selling out on weekends at bottle shops. We pre-drink to save money at overpriced bars and clubs where you can pay up to $10 (even up to $15 in Sydney) for drinks you can purchase much cheaper at a bottle shop. When we go out, we dance, have fun, meet people, drink some more with many drunken/regrettable decisions being made, and it’s all part of college life. Or so we’re made to believe. Every movie/tv show featuring college life features alcohol, even our college song talks about ‘getting drunk last night, and the night before.’ It is suggested that binge drinking is consuming over 4 standard drinks and I can safely say that on a big night out, we would drink 3, if not 4 times that.
I myself binge drink probably once every 2-3 weeks, and yes, I realise there are many short and long term effects of this. Trust me, the hangover in the morning is punishment enough. In the moment I enjoy everything about drinking; the taste (except Passion Pop or Goon), the feeling (flushed cheeks, confident, suddenly a great dancer), the friends I’m with, the drinking games we play and the following days we spend talking about the hilarious events of the night. To be honest, why would I give all of that up? And I have many friends who are much heavier drinkers than I am, yet they are still studying, succeeding in personal, social, academic, sporting areas, traveling the world and are nice, genuine people who have never caused trouble.
Alcohol is a part of Australian society and culture and there is no denying that. When used properly, it can be used to celebrate, bring people together, meet new people and socialise in the community. However, there are many negative social and health problems associated with alcohol abuse; drink driving, unprotected sex, drink spiking, rape, liver (and all other organs) problems, dependency, violence… the list goes on. When suggested in INSIGHT ‘should alcohol be banned?’ there were a number of people agreeing yes it should, along with the drinking age being moved to 21, with someone suggesting 25! However, as correctly pointed out, drugs are illegal, yet people still consume and abuse them, what exempts alcohol from this rule? It does seem that the negative side effects far outweigh the positives, but as the politician on the program states ‘politicians are here to implement the possible, and outlawing alcohol does not fit into that realm.’ And raising the drinking age will not stop anything if people are consuming alcohol from the age of 13.
Instead of just shutting alcohol out of a very alcohol focused society, we should increase education and awareness of these problems, not in year 10 when students are already 16 and have tried alcohol before. But when they’re 12 and 13, before they try alcohol. According to the program, people are first trying alcohol when they are between the age of 13 and 14. Personally at school, we focused on drugs and alcohol for approximately 1 or 2 terms of school, whilst we face years of ongoing peer pressure, alcohol fuelled situations. These strategies should be more heavily funded and implemented by the government for all Australian children.
Alcohol is found everywhere in today’s society. Most of us consume it regularly or know someone who does who still has their head screwed on. Yet we all know someone who has been negatively effected by alcohol. What frustrates me is that it is mostly adults making decisions for the younger generation after they ‘made their mistakes and have learnt from them.’ Why not ask for our input? Our stories? Our experiences and take action from them? I have confessed that I ‘binge drink’ but really, is it an issue?