March 25, 2014 by shitpetesays
Taking ownership and admission is the first step, right?
Good! I have a real problem with the way alcohol is glorified and abused in our culture. I’m no saint (and it’s probably best I don’t go into the details of my drunken antics in my past) but I have a much stronger understanding of life now (with more to learn) and the impacts of alcohol on an array of issues.
People (and lets focus on Australians) are drinking too much alcohol and they’re starting out too young. I’m no professor, I’m not an expert in the field, but I know what is too much and too young because I’ve been there, done that and now live with the short and long term effects of it.
Exposure to alcohol often starts at such a young, vulnerable age. Our parents drink from bottles with visually stimulating labels and when they do they look so happy. They no longer look like the stressed adults in our lives running around between taking us to and from school, cooking our food, washing our clothes, cleaning the house and so on. In return for everything our parents do for us, we do them favours. Our parents appreciate this and ask us to get them drinks, the drinks that make them happy so it seems like a great idea to oblige.
Without even realising, this is the first stage of introducing a person, a child, to alcohol. Our parents aren’t actively encouraging us to drink alcohol and they’re likely telling us not to. But as a child or adolescent, it’s often hard to comprehend why adults, parents, role models are allowed to do something that we’re not. In reality, all we’re seeing are adults drinking alcohol and feeling good whilst doing so. We want in on that too. But seen as though our parents won’t let us drink it, we do it elsewhere.
It’s when drinking starts at such a young age that the real issues arise. Putting the detrimental impact to our health aside, we quickly begin to find ourselves in unusual and compromising situations. We lose dignity and self respect. We’re forced to make decisions we’re no where near experienced enough to make. Our concentration at school and motivation to learn starts to deteriorate. We may even start mixing with the “wrong” crowd. But we don’t see this.
Before long, we’re drinking on a regular basis but we’re losing the thrill, so we begin to binge drink, we begin to experiment. This is at a time where our body and minds still aren’t fully mature and all our actions are really doing are slowing that process down. Our decision to consume toxins into our body has already and continues to affect our development. People are telling us this but we’re not feeling it.
The most pertinent issues related to alcohol consumption come in the form of driving under the influence, violence, emotional and psychological disorders and quite simply, poor decision making.
But who is really to blame? I know (and I’m a strong advocate of the fact) that we are individually responsible for the choices we make. We need to exercise self control. However, would it be easier to do if we didn’t witness our parents drinking alcohol while we were so young – leading by example? If our favourite music festivals weren’t sponsored by alcohol empires would we have a different approach? Does the relationship between sports, success and alcohol mislead us to believe that it’s an acceptable lifestyle choice?
I think so and I think the people in power need to adapt their approach to laws surrounding the representation and sale of alcohol. They need to do more to curb the continuing “trend” of alcohol fuelled violence both in the public domain and more importantly what happens behind closed doors.
I know that as my children begin to understand more of what’s going on around them (ie. once they’re talking and asking questions) I won’t be asking them to get me alcoholic beverages. I don’t have the answers yet but I will minimise my consumption around them and always ensure I’m drinking from a glass when I do (avoiding the appealing labels). It’s not a full proof plan and there’ll be debate around the issue of “hiding” things from them. But for me, it’s about setting an example for them.
I’ll lead by example and give them guidance.
Naturally, kids want to experiment so I’m not going to be a parent that tries to keep them in a bubble and I’m not going to mislead them. But, I am going to give them the facts they need to make their own decisions and trust that like their mother, they’ll make the right ones.
I’d love to see my kids then be able to positively influence the decisions of the people around them so we can have a bunch of kids that know how to have a good time without going overboard, without waking up in strange places, without confrontation with police, without disrespecting other people and engaging in physical conflict, without losing focus on the important things in life and without making decisions that will have a detrimental impact on their future.
If things work out this way for my kids and their mates, I’ll have less of a problem with alcohol.
— Pete @ Shit Pete Says —