Alcohol education is hit-or-miss in most parts of the world, and America is no exception. We tend to get told all-or-nothing messages like, “All alcohol is evil,” or, “It’s not a big deal at all,” rather than get actual information on how alcohol works and how to make sure we can handle it in an appropriate manner. Some people are more susceptible to alcohol misuse than others, and it’s important to be able to recognize the warning signs.
Myth: Binge drinking is normal
Binge drinking is when you drink a lot of alcohol in a short amount of time with the intent of getting really drunk. If someone is chugging shots like their life depends on it, then he or she is probably binge drinking. It’s easier to get wasted with hard liquor like vodka or whiskey, although some people will also drink an entire 12-pack of beer to achieve roughly the same effect. Binge drinking at any age isn’t “normal,” although it’s considered more acceptable at certain times in life. If you’ve ever been to a college party, you’ve almost certainly seen people binge drinking. Some people can binge drink in college and simply outgrow it by deciding they’re tired of throwing up, or they’re tired of waking up with the world’s worst hangover. There are also people for whom binge drinking marks the start of a lifelong problem with alcohol. Generally speaking, the more often someone binge drinks, the more likely it is he or she has issues with alcohol dependency. That’s not the only thing that matters, but it’s an important one. But if someone can’t drink any alcohol at all without getting plastered, that’s concerning, regardless of if the person does that once a year or every other weekend. Think about your habits when you buy alcohol. Whether you’re a college kid in Lawrence, Kansas, or a successful businessperson in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, you should be able to buy alcohol without going overboard.
Myth: A DUI arrest isn’t a big deal
Some people, especially younger ones, seem to think that getting arrested for driving under the influence isn’t a huge deal. They may feel this way because a first-offense DUI is generally a misdemeanor rather than a felony. But don’t let the word “misdemeanor” fool you. In most states, you’re still looking at fines that could exceed thousands of dollars, plus a strong possibility that your license will be suspended temporarily. Jail time can also happen if you don’t bother hiring a criminal defense attorney. A DUI charge is not a parking ticket. You can’t just go online to pay a small fine and never think about it again.
Aside from the possible legal consequences, a person who gets a DUI also needs to look at his or her own relationship with alcohol. Again, not knowing your own limits in regards to alcohol is a sign you may have a deeper issue with the substance. Responsible adults make plans in advance if they know they’ll be doing anything more than very light drinking that night. There’s no excuse not to call a cab or get a ride from a sober friend. It’s reckless and arrogant to risk the lives of yourself and others simply because you don’t want to go through the hassle of retrieving your car the next day.