Have you ever drank too much of something one night that you ended up spewing it all back up. “Ugh…that one night…” is the typical response given to the question of why you can’t stand a certain drink. It usually involves an excessive amount of consumption followed by the worst hangover of your life. Throwing up all night and the following day is standard. You can’t eat, you can’t think straight, and all you want to do is lie in bed and watch television. The next time you merely get a whiff of that drink, your gag reflex kicks in as you take a step back, covering your mouth with one hand and using your other to block the bottle from coming any closer towards you.
What if this natural mind instinct to refuse that drink is used more strategically to help society? Excessive drinking is a major concern for teens and young adults, especially when behind the wheel of a car. Not much progress has been made in the last couple decades for decreasing the number of alcohol related incidence. The fact that 13,451 alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities occurred in 1996 as compared to the 13,470 in 2006 seems to verify that point. Everyone should be aware of these daunting statistics, yet drinking is still the “cool” thing to do these days. What easier option is there for a growing teen who is just trying to fit in? Too bad they have no vivid experience that demonstrates the consequences of going too far.
Although still dangerous, the repelling feeling from drinking too much is a useful experience that teaches people the consequence of overconsumption is better than waking up in a hospital from a car crash (or even waking up at all). By now, after experimenting with most types of alcoholic beverages, I know what I like and what I don’t like. While my birthday happens to be conveniently on the same date as Cinco de Mayo, I have quickly grown to hate tequila. Experiences, like the one I just inferred, that most of you probably can imagine become engraved in your head to keep you away from that beverage in the future. What if these experiences are engraved into the minds of young teens before they obtain their driver’s license?
My Modest Proposal:
Parents should expose their children to the various types of alcohol (mainly hard liquor and wine) at a mature, yet developing, age before they obtain a driver’s license.
The first time teenagers try alcohol, it is usually done with their friends, in a basement, hidden from their parents. This is very unsafe for them because they are too inexperienced to know how much to drink. If anything were to happen to one of the novice drinkers, the other kids would be too scared to get caught to take the appropriate actions to protect that child from harm. Having the parents monitor the children’s drinking the first time they start would be advantageous because the parents could teach them “how” to do it safely.
With this idea, the kids will be able to identify what they like and don’t like at an early stage. The hangover incident as I described earlier will scar the kids enough to instill a hatred for the drink they threw up from. Under the parents’ supervision, maybe vodka, tequila, and gin made their children have an unforgettable sickening night, leaving them to avoid those drinks. Maybe having too many drinks too quickly makes them throw up. These events should obviously be closely monitored to make sure the children are not carried away, but establishments of limits accompanied by lessons from parents is better than having the kids figure it out for themselves. Parents can prove to them how alcohol affects reaction time and brain processing, which then impairs decision making (and driving). These nights where the parents teach their children the consequences of drinking could also be a fun night for the child to bond with their parents. Everyone remembers their first drink with their father.
Have you ever notice how easily rookie drinkers take a swig of hard alcohol from a water bottle? It is funny to see when high school teens don’t even use chasers for their shots. They are so new to drinking that they have no negative associations with alcohol. They throw it back like candy. Once you enter college though, you find people who can’t take any shots without chasers and people who only drink one or two types of drinks. It is interesting how the more experience people are with drinking, the more picky and conditional they get when they do so (typically). I know of someone who did not have a sip of alcohol until her 21st birthday. As she continued drinking for the next few months, I witnessed her take 4 Vladimir Vodka shots without any chasers in less than 10 minutes. I don’t know about you, but I cannot do that. The fact that she did not associate the disgusting taste of that cheap Vodka with any experiences probably made it so easy for her. This ease of excessive drinking is what my proposal is trying to avoid.
Introducing these associations to children at a young, but not too young, age would be valuable to them. I’m not saying that parents should forcibly make their children “black out” from something in each section of the liquor store… but I am saying to do something close to it. Nah, just kidding. But parents should expose their kids to why people need chasers for some shots of alcohol and why pacing yourself is more advantageous for you than “keeping up” (drinking fast) to maintain popularity is. Having their children throw up from dessert beverages after family dinner might seem like bad parenting on paper, but in the long run, they will learn a valuable lesson. They will find their drink of choice at a young age and then learn to appreciate it. As we turn into young adults, we know what we like and how to drink it. I’ve seen fifty-year-olds look astonishingly at a 21-year old girl easily take back a shot of patron as they slowly sip it for twenty minutes, the only pace they could handle. The young generation today sees alcohol as a way to get drunk, and not as a beverage. Some view it as a task they must overcome to reach their goal of being drunk rather than something they enjoy. Whatever happened to enjoying the drink and enjoying the act of drinking it together with friends? Now it appears that kids and young adults get drunk, and then have fun. “Pregaming,” ever heard of it? For me, that’s my favorite part of the night. It’s the people that don’t enjoy that part and try to take shortcuts past it that are typical considered alcoholics and act dangerously stupid when intoxicated.
If parents can demonstrate experienced drinking habits to their children in the safety of their own home before it’s too late, I think the stagnant alcohol statistics will decrease. Some might say alcohol at that age is bad for their growth and health, but a few early experiences with people the kid’s trust would develop a much more healthy habit for them in the long run. What’s better: 15 year olds safely drinking with their parents (the age some kids start anyway), or kids developing bad habits on their own a few years later and then having the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a car? At the rate our statistics are heading, I think this proposal is worth a chance.