Photo by Ian Keefe on Unsplash

Alcohol. Its both cause and solution to many of life’s problems.

Written by Harriet Speight

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to go out for a drink, (or a few) and not be worried about what kind of state I might end up in. All my friends and most other people seem to be able to mindlessly drink to excess without particularly concerning themselves with the consequences. I, however, have not been blessed with that luxury instead, I blackout. 

Blacking out is basically having amnesia. It is complete memory loss. When you’ve been drinking heavily, your mind simply can’t make new memories. 

There have been some blackouts worse than others, the worst being when I almost drowned. One night just after I’d finished my a levels, my school friends and I had decided to go out celebrating. The morning after, I woke up in my bed with no clue how I got there or memory of the night before, a feeling I was regrettably familiar with. But this time was different… 

Having been refused entry to a club, a friend put me in his car and took me home. Although, I never even made it to the front door. Instead I slipped round the side of the house to where there is a river just behind the garden. 

On purpose or by accident I ended up in the river. Luckily my mum heard a splash and ran outside to my rescue. As I lay face down in the water she scrambled down the bank to pull me out. But she couldn’t. After numerous attempts to drag my unconscious body from the river she resided to just holding me as to prevent me from drowning but if I didn’t drown she was terrified I would succumb to the cold or vomiting. 

Unable to leave to get a phone and call someone, she waited. An hour passed before my dad eventually returned home. Thankfully he was able throw me over his shoulders and carry me up the steep bank that surrounds the river. It is a night both my parents have struggled to get over, having thought they might lose me forever. 

So why not just quit drinking? I did for a while after this particular incident. But I didn’t want to stop going out with my friends so I continued to do so and drive. But this invited a lot of questions about why I wasn’t drinking. It made me uncomfortable. I wasn’t ready to talk about the incident, I was embarrassed and in the end I ran out of excuses, so I thought screw it. I’ll have a drink. 

There is still a stigma around not drinking, people assume you are boring or attempt to pressure you into drinking. I don’t regret drinking again, I’ve just had to learn to control it and admit aspects of myself. Being forced to get control rather than abstain was important because it feels when I stopped all together, I was letting alcohol control me. Instead, I wanted to feel in control of it, and participate as and when I wanted. In time as I grow older, as going out becomes not so important and sobriety becomes more mainstream I may well consider teetotalism, but for now explaining why I’m not drinking is not something I am ready to do (neither is swimming in a river, in case you were wondering).