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March 16, 2009 | by  | in Opinion |
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Editorial – Alcohol

Alcohol. Hopefully most of you have tried it. I love the stuff. I cannot get enough of it. I would drink every day if I could afford to—but I can’t—so it is just Monday through to Saturday for me. And never beer. Fuck that. I only drink the strong stuff. Scotch. Schlivovitz. Shandies.

We humans have a love–hate relationship with alcohol. We worship it and, at the same time, secretly despise it. We know drinking it is bad. It kills brain cells, leads to evil parasites living in our uteri and headaches that feel like caber-tossing practice is happening right next to the amygdala.

Yet we still drink it.

Damn, it’s good to have a drink. BRB I’m getting a drink.

This love–hate relationship manifests responses like “Bars told to back off” – a story recently run by the Sunday Star Times. We get these feelings of guilt that we’ve done something wrong. We flagellate ourselves for getting drunk and then we numb the pain—with another drink.

One hand points a puritanical finger while the other hand holds a Chivas Regal. We point that finger at anyone but ourselves. Marketers of alcohol. Pubs. Students. Young people. No one is willing to take individual or collective responsibility for drinking.

The problem is not why or even how we’re drinking, it is not even the drinking. Somewhere in our collective history we grew to rely on alcohol to soothe life’s problems. The grains used to ferment alcohol have been ingrained into us over time and now we’re left with this schizophrenia that tears us and eventually makes us drink more.

Student drinking culture is changing, study load has stayed the same, working hours are longer and taxes on alcohol have steadily increased along with general living costs. To be able to afford a little anaesthetic at the end of the day we go to wholesalers and supermarkets where you can pick up a can of beer for as little as 80 cents a pop.

Take it back to the flat, sit down and drink the fuck out of that slab. Drink the drink. Take the ride.

The Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand (ALAC) tells me I am a high-risk drinker and my drinking will “cause you or may have already caused you problems,” (ie: this mag is fucked). I’m okay with that. It is part of getting over this schizophrenia that means we’re constantly beating ourselves up about turning to the bottle for inspiration, consolation, friendship, sex, enjoyment or oblivion, and take it upon ourselves to look for ways to encourage responsible drinking rather than penalising those who already do.

My solution: Keep the drinking age 18 for bars, cafés and restaurants. Put the purchasing age in supermarkets and wholesalers up to 20. This obviously benefits bars, but with this comes more responsibility. We already have decent enough laws that protect the patron, and in theory enforcement will mean supervised, responsible drinking.

One thing for Vic students to think about is the Mt Street Bar—Eastside, as it was formerly known—was a nurturing place where you could pick up a jug for $5. Under the watchful supervision of people slightly more mature and less intoxicated, you could play pool or stack jugs to the top of the atrium. You were on campus, safe and you even had Campus Angels to walk you home (if you were at that point of drunkenness where bushes became velociraptors waiting to jump out). Now few people go there and with prices equivalent to town, there is little reason to drink there.

Stopping students from drinking alcohol is like teaching abstinence instead of safe sex. In both cases the results are disease and babies if there is no education, moderation and experimentation. The mindset that it is okay to go out and get fucked up/shitfaced/mashed etc is the problem. Not the booze. Curb the mindset, don’t wrap yourself in cotton wool, pick a safe environment to drink in and then you will see positive results.

In other news, it is Salient’s 71st birthday! So huzzah for us, I’m off to get a drink to celebrate.

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About the Author ()

The editor of this fine rag for 2009.

Comments (1)

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  1. Charmless Cretin says:

    Students might consider occasional drug use as an (illegal) alternative to wanton intoxication. Although it’s dificult to accurately gauge the dangers of many substances (officially-sanctioned misinformation is a constant irritation), in my own personal experience, the sauce is much more debilitating than many “soft” drugs (wikipedia it, biatches).

    Depending on what you’re taking – and where you get it from – drugs can be even cheaper than a rampant night on the town would be.

    Also, some bushes do actually contain veliciraptors, and you can never be too careful.

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