As you might have gleaned from the title of this article, I am of course referring to the classic, age-old tradition of getting hammered with your mates. There is certainly nothing wrong with it when it is done to celebrate something, or even to simply blow some steam and let loose when exam period rolls around or life stresses you out in some way or the other (it is certainly no solution, but at least it can give you the space you need to think it all over the following morning when you are lying hopelessly in bed, unable to do anything, as you engage hangover-recovery mode).
What I’m getting at specifically, however, is the way in which our generation in particular (I am 21 years old so basically I’m referring to anyone who is a millennial) has displayed a particular tendency to get wasted on a consistent, regular basis – we have not, by any means, invented substance abuse as a concept, but we have definitely taken it to a new level of excess.
Before people start ripping me a new one and telling me that I shouldn’t point my fingers at anyone without checking whether my hands are clean, I would like to point out one thing; I am not judging anyone. As a matter of fact, anyone who knows me personally knows that, just like everyone else, I had my struggles too, and for a long period of time I had no idea of the consequences it would have on my life. The reason I’m making the extra effort involved in pointing this out is because this is something that hasn’t just happened to me, but to a lot of people who have grown up in the modern world (some people’s problems are less visible than others, but just because they are hidden or don’t fit the traditional concept of substance abuse does not mean that the abuse is not there).
The only thing that makes me ‘different’ is I happened to have good reasons to quit hitting bars and clubs, and was able to reflect on all of this from a different perspective. I am almost 100% sure that most people who are reading this article can somehow relate to the subject because it is a problem that in reality affects a lot of people, even if very few of us like to discuss it openly. The reasons why we all want to get so f*cked up, so frequently are various – students especially seem to have a particular need for this, given the amounts of stress and work that is piled up on the average undergraduate nowadays.
So, why do we do this to ourselves? My answer to that question is this – it’s because the world that surrounds us is one that can be a confusing mess, and we have inherited a world that is full of hate, bigotry, lies and self-aggrandizement. According to prominent addiction specialist Dr Gabor Maté, addiction is a response to some form of trauma, one which is mostly unconscious and many of us remain unaware of. How many of us have been brought up in families who were struggling to make ends meet and barely had time to breathe, let alone spend time with their kids? How many of us grew up in a difficult scenario and had to fight to get out of such situations?
What worries me the most is the escapism involved; how many of us drink and party in the hopes of running away from the impossibilities of living in a world that revolves around money, rather than people? What substances people consume and how they spend their evenings is their business, but an entire generation that has established a routine of party-going not only for entertainment but because there is little better to do in the way of expressing oneself and having a good time is a different problem altogether.
I honestly understand what it feels like to live in a world that sometimes just doesn’t make any sense, and I know what it feels like to try and forget it all, even if it’s at least for one night. It isn’t my aim to make anyone who may have been provoked by this article to feel judged or guilty; rather, I just want to say this – maybe, just maybe, it isn’t exactly the best idea for practically all of us to partake in the whole business on such a scale. Maybe it’s time we reflected a bit on why we do this, and work on the actual reasons that got us there. Maybe, it’s time we took more interest in what is going on and which parts of our society need to change for the better; before things go beyond the point of no return.
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