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Paradox1's avatar

Your thoughts and life experiences with alcohol... positive, negative?

Asked by Paradox1 (1167 points ) September 13th, 2011

I have been considering the course and events of my life as of late, and to tell you the truth I feel as though these events would have been very, very different if I had not had a drop of alcohol in my life.

Some background: I did not start drinking until I was 18.5yrs and I drank adequately while I attended college, which is something I was indoctrinated in to through my sports team and other organizations. Had I chosen to not drink at all, some of these life events would have been seriously lacking or missing entirely, while other negative outcomes and repercussions of consuming alcohol would have been avoided. For example, I would not have gotten into relationship-ending fights with my then-girlfriend while sober, but at the same time I would not have met her (which was at a bar and the alcohol I’m sure certainly aided our coming together), something I do not regret at all.

So my question is: What are your experiences with alcohol? and Do you think it is better to be a non-drinker or an imbiber in our society?

I understand that it is different for everyone depending on what they want and what their goals in life are, but as I am not sure “what I want from life,” I am curious to hear your opinions.

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36 Answers

marinelife's avatar

My view of alcohol is totally shaded because my brother is an alcoholic. All of the constant letdowns, and lies, and excuses. Sigh.

I used to drink and I had some fun drinking, but I don’t drink now, and I have more fun.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

I have not had an addiction to alcohol; I have family members who do.

Previously in my life, I treated alcohol like a taboo, primarily because I had alcoholics in my family. When I drank, the experiences always led to regretful actions, as I drank infrequently and when in a rebellious mood.

Now that I drink more regularly, in various types of moods, and treat the act of drinking as relaxing rather than rebellious, I have a positive experience in most cases. I also drink far less when I do drink.

JLeslie's avatar

I almost never drink, and almost never have. I figure I have saved, or not spent, thousands of dollars that most Americans spend on alcohol, even if they only drink on weekends, or just wine with dinner that sort of thing. I am a little judgmental about drinking, in that anyone who does it with any regularity I think it is a bad idea. Having some at parties every so often, or to relax twice a year after a really tough day, no problem.

Overall, for myself, I just don’t bother to drink. I have fun without it. I never worry about driving home. And, I travel with the money rather than drinking it.

emjay's avatar

Every time I drink I do something stupid. Be it destroying a great relationship, telling my boss I was wasted, or sexting total strangers…

My life is better off without copious amounts of alcohol.

Though I do enjoy a GLASS of wine every now and then.

abysmalbeauty's avatar

I have no positive experiences due to alcohol. The majority of my family is alcoholic and their addiction causes them to be completely unreliable, conniving, and pretty much jerks. My aunt has found it appropriate to drive drunk with all the kids in her car numerous times, she tried to get me and my cousins to drive for her when she was drunk well under the driving age limits, my grandmother alienated each person in the family numerous times, my uncle finds it appropriate to live in a 4 room apartment with his wife and two sons (age 17 and 14) who must share a room with barely any food at all while he visits the bar every night with the wife, my grandfather was dead in his apartment for over 2 days with no one knowing because everyone thought he was up there drunk, my sister began hiding alcohol in her room at age 13.

I dated a guy who liked to drink once. During our relationship he drove drunk all the time, he threw up in my brand new car the day I got it then passed out and I had to call his friend at 2 in the AM to help me carry him into his parents house, he peed in the corner of our bedroom and it just sicked being around a babbling drunk all the time.

The one and only time I got drunk I was 17 years old, my best friends mom and her boyfriend pumped me full of cheap vodka approx 16 oz of it. I was violently ill, passed out and woke up without my clothes and have no idea what took place that night.

I don’t drink to get drunk and refuse to let drunks into my life.

Paradox1's avatar

To @marinelife and @JLeslie How do you have (more) fun without drinking? Do most of your friends share your viewpoint?

I feel as though my friends would look at me like an alien if I were to go out with them and not drink. I also don’t know what I would do as an activity either… ie.. I assume you don’t go to bars, comedy clubs, Mad Men-themed parties etc?

KateTheGreat's avatar

I’m a drinker, I enjoy drinking, and it hasn’t had a negative effect on my life.

I can control myself and I know my limits. No problems here.

JLeslie's avatar

@Paradox1 I have always been a club person, the emphasis was on dancing. Been going to out to big dance clubs since I was 16. Most people drank, but I didn’t. It was not big deal with the people I hung out with. In fact one of the clubs was open to 6:00 in the morning, and last call was at 2:30am, the place was still packed.

I should back up, that in Jr High a lot of my friends began to drink, and the parties on the weekends were all about the drink. I rarely went to any of those parties and it was lonely. Luckily, I met up with people who didn’t drink, and there was no pressure. Later I started dating a guy in high school who drank, but was not obsessed with getting drunk every time we were out or anything, and he did not care if I drank or not.

In college, my friends drank like fishes! I mean I could not believe how often and how much. By college I realized I could just say I don’t drink, or I prefer to have a Coke and no one was going to throw me out of the room. The loved that I could be the driver. We all had fun still. Sometimes when I am with people who don’t know me and I say I don’t drink, they might try to push me to have one, but that is extremely, I mean extremely rare. The person who pushes and pushes is usually an alcoholic, although sometimes it can be they are just dumb and young. Alcoholics hate to drink alone.

There will be those who might assume you are an alcoholic if you don’t drink, but I don’t think most people think that.

There are a surprising amount of people who don’t drink. I am going to look for some Q’s here that shows you how many jellies don’t.

It is annoying to be around people who are drunk all the time though. Drunk is different than having a drink.

Also, my husband almost never drinks. He has about 6 beers a year, and a nightcap once in a very blue moon.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

I have seen alcohol ruin at least 7 peoples lives. They have done things that no sober person would ever consider. 5 of them are dead. So I would say I have a negative opinion on alcohol.

Haleth's avatar

Drinking is always a learning experience for me. I mostly drink wine and do my best to try something new every time, and to learn as much as I can about what I’m drinking. The same grape can taste and smell different depending on where it was grown and how it was made- things like climate, time of harvest, and even the soil can make a difference in the finished product.

Plus, food and wine taste so damn good together. If you’re eating fatty food, the acid and tannin in wine make the food taste so… rich. Plus wine is full of sensory pleasures like the color, clarity, mouthfeel (texture, weight) and smell. And it makes social gatherings livelier.

All in all, great experiences.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I’m an alcoholic with 12 years of recovery. I can honestly and tersely say that alcohol ruined my life.

snowberry's avatar

I rarely drink, although my husband and friends will. I don’t like to be around people who get drunk, and none of our friends do that. If they did, we would make sure not to serve alcohol when they were around.

My mother drank a lot. This was because her doctors told her that the pain medication they could prescribe her had worse side effects than the alcohol. She limped and staggered when she was sober, so I could never tell if she was sober or not.

JLeslie's avatar

@Paradox1 Here is one Q you might like. You can search for more if you are interested.

zenvelo's avatar

Alcohol was a friend, lover, seducer from the age of 12. I would do anything for alcohol- lie, cheat, steal, betray friends. It liberated me from the bonds of my low self esteem, let me dance like Fred Astaire, let me sing like Tony Bennett, let me have sex like Valentino.

It pretty much dominated my life until the age of 30. It let me see the inside of jails in four counties, destroyed cars, kept me from having a real relationship, kept me at the emotional age of a 14 year old.

I am intensely grateful that no one died as a result of my drinking.

I have been sober for over 25 years. I don’t think I would have made it another ten years if I hadn’t gotten sober, so living without alcohol is just fine for me.

AmWiser's avatar

I enjoy my wine and don’t let it rule me. Years ago in my 20’s I drank alcohol and quickly learned we were not going to get along so I let it go. I enjoy life whether I’m drinking or not.
@Paradox1 it’s easy to sit in judgement of yourself by thinking if you had not done this, such and such would not have happened. Don’t beat yourself up over what you think would have or could have been. You’ll never know.

Paradox1's avatar

@AmWiser Perhaps I have mis-phrased the question. I am in no way regretful or remorseful of what has happened (or not) to me. I see it more as a learning experience and a way to self-actualize. My question was merely curious with thought given to my future stance on the drug (alcohol).

marinelife's avatar

@Paradox1 When I am with a crowd that is drinking, I sip carbonated mineral water with a lime twist or diet cola with a lime twist. No one has to know. Although as the drinking progresses, you are likely to get disgusted and leave.

woodcutter's avatar

I have done many a stupid thing while plowed, things I wish I had not. Don’t do it any more except for very rare occasions. I have been very, very lucky.

Symbeline's avatar

Excessive drinking or relying on it too much can certainly be hazardous to one’s health, both mentally and physically. This can cause long term or permanent problems.

Occasional drinking or, some kind of regular weekend party thing isn’t too bad, but one also has to be careful. Unfortunate things can happen to people who drink occasionally. But on most cases, I don’t think it can alter one’s future too much, however I cannot state this as a fact. I mean, even if you never develop a problem with drinking, it’s easy to slip and fuck up permanently.

I got a problem myself. Everything sucks when I don’t drink, so then I get drunk, and everything seems better and easier to accept. There’s also the whole delusion thing, where whenever I’m drunk, I believe that I perceive truth. And that’s prolly complete bullshit, yet I keep doing it. But it’s very convincing, and I now often have a hard time discerning when my perceptions are closer to something in both states. So this, obviously, must affect my choice making. It’s self destructive, and even though I have no proof, I know it’s been altering my future, and my life wouldn’t be like it is now if this wasn’t happening.
As best as I can explain it, anyways.

But this is something from someone with a drinking problem, and I don’t think your question wonders about that, rather than average, or at least, recreational/it just happened drinking moments?

In that case, I certainly agree that it’s part of life’s experience, and a good way to explore yourself a little, and perhaps others, too. People do and say shit while drunk that they wouldn’t otherwise. It,s always a good insight, if you consider that people might be more open and honest when drunk. As far as such things greatly altering one’s future, I really don’t know, that would highly depend on the individual. I don’t believe it to be impossible at all, however from my observations of people, it isn’t a constant thing.
However as I pointed out, it can easily lead to some really shitty stuff, like getting pregnant, or getting hurt really bad, getting expelled, fired, whatever. This can certainly alter your future, especially if you’re a student.
Then again, I like to think that college staff have seen it all. If they haven’t done it themselves. XD

JLeslie's avatar

@Paradox1 Have you ever just tried to not drink? I don’t say that like you are an alcoholic or anything. Everyone is ordering, and you order a Coke? You’ll find it is not a big deal. Most likely the pressures in your head to conform with the group are more in your head than the heads of the people you are with. If they do care, then probably not great people to hang out with honestly. I don’t mean you have to completely dump them as friends or anything. For all you know when you order your non-alcoholic beverage someone else will also.

dreamwolf's avatar

alcohol turns negative into positve, then negative again

Hibernate's avatar

I’ve had both. I never drank outside a limit .. I never wanted to get wasted so I stopped after I felt a bit dizzy. I can drink a lot before getting to that stage but I do not drink to much because I do not want to drink to much water next few days because alcohol takes water out of my body.

Paradox1's avatar

@Symbeline While I was not directly asking about alcoholism, I certainly would like to hear your opinions and stories how people are affected by alcohol positively and negatively. So far in hearing from jellies, it seems as though there are some very real and very scary risks associated with alcohol, and a lot of heart break and even death. This is important for me to consider, since I find that imbibing with friends greatly enhances one’s night, but perhaps it may not be worth the long-term risks, or perhaps I should be warned to be extra cautious regarding the dangers of alcohol. These are the things I am weighing in my head. Some jellies have noted that drink occasionally without any problems, and this is something to consider too.

@JLeslie I have certainly ordered non-alcoholic beers out with peers in the past, as well as ordering one beer and babysitting it the entire night or merely using it as something to hold and I have been totally fine. I will even order a coke in a short glass to fool people if I really don’t feel like drinking. Despite my profound love for the taste of beer, I suppose I would like to not drink at all for the health and fiscal benefits (as you mentioned previously), but based on my experiences with dating, with my current friends, with all of my family, with networking and events with business professionals, and with societal standards – it seems very difficult to avoid completely at least in my current environment and current habits (I do love beer more than soda, smoothies, frappacinos, whatever, for the taste – but n.a. beers taste like sh*t!) Going to happy hour with friends, and especially on dates is common, and I suppose that I do have some degree of fear in these situations to not drink, especially on dates where a glass of wine is common.

Now if my significant other didn’t drink.. then I suppose a weight would be lifted as far as that pressure goes. At the same time, and this is just one example, the most fun day of my life was a friends wedding I was in earlier this year, and drinking alcohol certainly helped it achieve this status. My point is I don’t want to potentially miss out on the greatest peak experiences of self-actualization. These are the things I am trying to figure out. Thank you and thank you to all responders for helping me and others who see this.

Coloma's avatar

There is nothing wrong with a few drinks to enhance a social situation, have a party, dance, laugh, have fun, or just because.
There is everything wrong with NEEDING to drink every day and sloppy, stupid, outta control, brawling, driving, abusive alcohol consumption.

You sound like you are very insightful, and most people with alcohol issues are not. I think you’re investigation shows you are already aware of the potential for good or bad.

JLeslie's avatar

@Paradox1 I was not questioning your ability to not drink, just your ability to be comfortable if you are the one not drinking. I think you understood, but since you felt the need to explain you have nursed one drink all night, or have had nonalcoholic beer, I wanted to make sure you knew what I was getting at.

I think you should give it a try. It really sounds to me that you associate a good time, or anything social with alcohol, I think that can be a bad thing. I am guessing you had no examples of adults opting for non alcoholic drinks as a kid. Your parents drank in social settings? I saw my mom and dad not drink when others were drinking all the time. I had an example I could follow. I saw their friends not care. I go to happy hour with friends. Hell, I met my husband in a nightclub, he was dancing on a speaker when I first scoped him out. Two people who basically don’t drink meeting in a bar.

Paradox1's avatar

@JLeslie Of course I associate alcohol with a good time! Have you not seen a Bud Light commercial in the last 2 years? Haha, that’s the media for you, the world we live in. I usually have more fun and feel more free on nights when I drink with friends than nights I do not drink with others also not drinking in a social setting as well as nights I do not drink while others do so. Perhaps only my perception is different because of the way I became accustomed to alcohol while attending university.

And my mom rarely drinks a half glass of wine (while the rest of my family/friends drink), but my dad drinks 2 drinks a night, and my grandma one drink 3–5 days a week. Of the rest of my family none drink more than my dad, and none less than my mom except for my aunt who has MS.

I guess I am worried of “missing out,” or of being “left behind” by friends and others who drink. But that is only part. The other part is I enjoy the feeling of a buzz, of total relaxation and release. It would seem that the latter is dangerous, and many have noted they do not enjoy that feeling.

Sunny2's avatar

I used to drink quite a lot, enough to worry that I might be an alcoholic. I had to stop for health reasons and had no trouble doing so. I can now drink 2 tablespoons of spirits without my heart fibrillating and occasionally I do just that. However, I do miss the brain cells I destroyed with all that alcohol and wish I hadn’t used it so excessively. You don’t notice it while you’re drinking, but later on, when you’re forgetting things and getting confused at times, you may wish you hadn’t.

JLeslie's avatar

@Paradox1 Many people don’t. Many people could care less if there is alcohol or not, and they still have a good time. Your family background pretty much says to me your family drinks at almost all social get togethers, and many drink regularly, almost daily or daily. I think that is the biggest influence on you environmentally and genetically. And, that you are obviously still young, and drinking during the years while at college/university is very common.

wildpotato's avatar

I love to drink and hope I always will. I use it as one of many pleasant ways to alter consciousness. Furthermore, beer is delicious. I no longer drink myself sick the way I did in college, because I have gained enough experience to tell when enough is enough for me. Additionally, I have developed an intestinal condition as of a few years ago which makes liquor feel like knives in the belly, so no more cocktails or shots for me. I don’t regret drinking as much as I did in college, with the exception of a few isolated occasions – it was an important part of the development of several excellent friendships.

I think it’s better for some people to not imbibe, and better for others to do so – though not consistently to excess. In general, I have a fairly low view of the theory that addiction makes helpless those addicted – but I’ve never been there, and so have no background from which to support my distaste for this claim. So I decided awhile ago to take people at their word – if they think they should not drink, then they should not.

@marinelife @JLeslie I’d like to echo Paradox’s question (within the thread) – could you possibly give some examples of stuff to do which does not involve drinking? I ask because I have a friend who recently quit, and we’re truly at a loss for what to do together now. This surely sounds like a silly question to you – but for me, going out with friends means going to a bar, pool hall, comedy club, party, etc. I picked up on one of your suggestions up there, but dance clubs are not our scene. What else do sober folk do for fun?

DominicX's avatar

I first drank when I was 15. This was the age when myself and other friends started drinking and partying and sneaking out and drinking in someone’s car at night…it was all fun. Throughout the second half of high school I did drink occasionally, largely at parties or with a few friends. I’m a social drinker; I’ve never drunk alone and I probably never will. When I first started drinking, I did have to learn my limits the hard way and that I was a major lightweight, but after that, I was never interested in drinking to the point of blacking out and throwing up.

I still do go to parties semi-regularly and drink at them. I know my limits, I’m not interested in being completely fucked up, I’ve never driven drunk and never will, and I don’t get into cars with drunk drivers. I have my share of stupid and embarrassing things I’ve done while wacked out on wowie sauce, but I’ve never seriously endangered my life with alcohol.

I like to think I drink responsibly and that’s why I continue to have fun with alcohol. Alcoholism isn’t something in my family; my parents drank and partied in high school and college (probably more than I do) and barely drink at all now.

AmWiser's avatar

All things are not for everyone. Only you can know your limitations. If you like to drink, than drink. The only person that can give you any future stance on the effect of drugs/alcohol on you, is you. Just listen to your body to know what (alcohol/drugs) is doing to it.

Nullo's avatar

Alcohol perhaps epitomizes the (rather sound) notion that all things should be enjoyed in moderation.
My own consumption is limited to a glass of wine or a bottle of cider with dinner every now and then. My record is three ciders over the course of an afternoon and evening.

tranquilsea's avatar

My very first encounter with alcohol was when I was 16. I had a designated driver and all the fixings for long island iced tea. Not knowing my limit I ended up drinking past it within an hour or so. I knew I was in a bad way and asked my designated driver to drive me home. She didn’t want to leave and found some guy to drive me.

Instead of driving me home he took me somewhere and raped me.

I didn’t drink again for years and years after. I still don’t drink in public. I’ll have a glass or two of wine a home with my hubby and friends. That’s it.

jerv's avatar

Technology is neither good nor evil. The same is true of alcohol.
Anything done to excess is bad, and that includes drinking.

I have had plenty of bad experiences in my life where alcohol wasn’t involved at all, and not enough that can actually be blamed on drinking to have a bad opinion of alcohol. Those that do blame alcohol are, IMO, just looking for a scapegoat.

Symbeline's avatar

@Paradox1 Yeah, that’s the thing with booze, it affects different people in different ways. You got people predisposed to it, you got others who can knock back like a pirate just fine but never develop problems, yaddi yadda.
Leaving out alcoholism, as I said before, I have personally never really seen anybody’s future be drastically changed by occasional/recreational drinking. Not beyond stuff I’ve just heard rather than witnissed, anyways. Of course, without being a person whom we might suspect this has happened to, I can’t really know.

I do think it can change, but with what I mentioned before. Through accidents, and other unfortunate crap like that.

Can it have a positive effect? I don’t see why not. When you get passed all the stigma on alcohol, as you yourself stated, you can have a good time with friends, or sometimes it really helps to relieve stress. As long as one doesn’t make it a habit and a need, I think it’s fine, but I have no stories on how such drinking has affected people permanently, whether good or bad. Alcohol is a big thing in society, so it might have a hard time changing something significantly in the context which you’re exploring. That doesn’t mean it can’t though. Really wish I had better examples than just speculations though lol.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Drinking with people I like and trust has been a lot of fun over the years.

Drinking with people I’m not sure of has made some awful shite go down.

Anymore I like to drink only with friends.

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