Not Seeing the “Plus-Side” to Alcohol

Note: My title for this blog post is a reference to this English idiom. This whole post is a lead-in I am writing to set up for my second entry for the April Carnival of Aces (And yes, I’m a tiny bit late). I just wanted to explain a bit about my relationship with alcohol here, in more depth than most people will probably want to read, before moving on to comparing anything to my relationship with sex. 😛 You can skip to the next post if you’d prefer not to read this one.

When I was in college, I never once went to a party, or a bar, or a club, or anywhere where the only thing to really do is drink alcohol. No, I was the girl who went to board game club and chorus and RA-organized trips to the art museum and the Linguistics club where we watched Avatar and discussed the language of Na’vi made up for the film. When I went to family gatherings and was under 21, no one would really be comfortable allowing me to drink (alcohol) anyway, so of course I’d drink soda or sparkling apple cider or whatever was being served there (water, milk… etc).

I avoided even sipping alcohol before I was 21, partially because it was illegal and I felt a little uncomfortable with breaking the law. Because in the context of doing it while in a college dorm I might even get expelled. Etc. However… I don’t think that was the reason I refused a sip even when my dad offered me a sip of wine or beer as I neared my 21st birthday, and I had zero chance of getting in trouble. I think… I think I was afraid of multiple other things.

1) I was afraid I wouldn’t like the taste. I could smell it and it already didn’t seem appealing to me, and I’ve always been quite picky. Even in terms of which sodas I like vs. don’t like: I don’t enjoy Coke/Pepsi (cola), Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew, Grape Soda… no. I prefer certain select flavors I know that I like (lemon/lime sodas like Sprite/7 Up, Root Beer, Orange Soda, Ginger Ale, Cream Soda…).

2) I was afraid of the idea of alcohol. I mean alcoholism technically runs in my family a bit, with my grandfather, uncle, and sort of my mother. In general, alcohol is usually not considered a drug (hence common phrases like “Drugs and alcohol”) but it is one, and even in fairly small amounts it supposedly changes… how you feel. It is “fun” to drink for this reason, to get tipsy/buzzed, my dad says he thinks he might enjoy food more when he’s eating it while drinking alcohol, there’s a reason kids go out of their way to sneak alcohol into proms or school bus trips or wherever, and it’s not simply because it’s forbidden – it’s because getting drunk is one form of getting high. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, and even without any potential fear of getting addicted, it has always scared me because it is supposed to change something about “who I am”, how I will choose to act, what I will feel. I don’t welcome these changes with excitement. No, I am cautiously curious, a little, but also (probably irrationally) afraid.

When I hit my 21st birthday and therefore was of legal age to purchase and consume alcohol here in the USA, I experienced two conflicting desires.

I had a desire to “be like a normal person” and celebrate that it was now legal for me to purchase and consume alcohol,

but I also really did not want to drink.

I talked to my brother (who’s 2 years younger than me) on the phone and he assured me of the obvious: if I didn’t want to drink, I didn’t have to. But somehow that didn’t help as much as it should. Somehow… it didn’t really feel true.

Eventually, a couple months after my birthday when I was back home for spring break, while going out to dinner with my dad and brother at a Friday’s restaurant, I tried some alcohol. I noticed that it made me feel similar to how I felt when I was overtired – I laughed a little more easily, but I also felt more tired… I tried alcohol again a few months later and I noticed it became more difficult to focus on text and read it, I more easily got dehydrated and despite drinking water along with my drink still got a headache… and again it just… made me tired. I didn’t really feel a plus side to it.

I never let myself get all the way drunk.

I have been on prescribed narcotic painkillers at 3 points in my life (Oxycodone (Oxycontin) and Vicodin) and I never have particularly enjoyed the experience. One of these 3 times was when my wisdom teeth were taken out, which my brother had done at the exact same time as me. I remember we were taking the same drugs to treat the same pain and I hated it because they made me so exhausted, while my brother actually felt some sort of “high” off of them, and admitted to me that he kind of wished he had an excuse to keep taking them even after he no longer needed them. He didn’t keep taking them, he stopped like he should, but I was surprised that he was even partially tempted to keep on them. I didn’t feel that appeal at all. I was happy to be done with them, truly. I felt no positives other than a lack of pain when taking them, which meant that without the pain anymore, why would I take them? Especially when they actually had negative side effects for me?

I find myself feeling almost identically about alcohol. I don’t see positives, not really. I can have a ton of fun without alcohol, and I see so many downsides to trying to drink, be it how expensive drinks can be, how I don’t actually like the bitter flavor of alcohol most of the time, how they make you too impaired to drive, how they make me tired, give me a (dehydration?) headache even when I attempt to drink water alongside my alcoholic drink, etc, etc. For me, I have now realized that I am… happy to just live my life avoiding drinking alcohol pretty much ever. It’s never a requirement, I realized, and I shouldn’t put pressure on myself to drink just because everyone else is doing it. I legitimately don’t want to, and so I won’t. I might try an alcoholic drink where I’m curious about the taste in the future… I haven’t sworn off the idea of ever drinking again… but if I never were to drink again, I’d be okay with that. I doubt I’ll ever get to the point of being drunk, either way, and really… I don’t need to be.

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4 thoughts on “Not Seeing the “Plus-Side” to Alcohol

  1. Good on you. This reminds me of a conversation I had a decade or more ago at a concert with a guy, about drinking beer. He said something like, “well, at first I didn’t like it either, then I kinda got used to the taste”.
    I absolutely detest beer in any shape or form, and I had no idea why anyone would willingly make themself drink something they hated again and again until they got used to the taste.
    Also, I think the “lowering of inhibitions” is half myth. Given my experiences as a giggly drunk, and giggly sober fangirl, people like to justify the lowering of inhibitions with the alcohol, or use it as an excuse to act out.

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    1. I think that might have some truth to it. I too can be a giggly sober fangirl in that way… 😛 The worst is when people act like you can’t have fun at a wedding if they don’t serve alcohol (like the Mormon wedding I just went to less than a week ago). If that’s true, then how could me and my old high school friends who I met up with have such a pleasant time like we did, and like we always do despite 99% of the time none of us drinking in these gatherings?

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      1. Fangirling is waay more giggly-making, at least for me.
        Anyhow, I don’t see how getting drunk at a wedding (or anywhere) equals having fun there, either.

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