March 6th, 2015
As young people, sex education gets thrust into our faces from the age of eleven, all the way through secondary school and even into our university careers. Everything from the various, and sometimes confusing, contraception methods to the risks of rape and assault, we are by the far the most sexually-educated generation so far. It is odd, therefore, that our generation is synonymous with teenage pregnancies and irresponsible decisions. Disturbingly it is alcohol, as opposed to lack of sex education, that forms a major contributing factor in teenage pregnancies, with one in three of all pregnancies in young people under twenty-one being directly contributed to by excessive alcohol consumption.
Anyone who has experienced being drunk knows that it becomes increasingly difficult to control your own actions, let alone make sensible, informed decisions when confronted with drunken situations. Many young people would never dream of having unprotected sex or sex with a person they know nothing about when sober, but a quick look at any nightclub will show that alcohol-fuelled teenagers see no problem with sexual promiscuity. The fact that alcohol is such a driving force in the rate of teenage pregnancy shows that, far from being a universally fun social lubricant, it can be an extremely dangerous drug which affects sensible decision making. A night drinking with friends on the town may seem as if it is entirely harmless, but a split second decision made after one too many shots of tequila could have an extremely long-term consequence that will last much longer than a hangover.
Furthermore, the consequences of alcohol-related decisions are by no means limited to accidental pregnancy. Those under the influence are more likely to get a regrettable tattoo, be violent towards friends and partners and get themselves injured or even killed. No one wants to wake up with a cartoon character emblazoned upon them, in a police cell or wired up in a hospital, if they wake up at all. Twenty six percent of homicide committed by men under twenty-nine is fuelled by alcohol, meaning that these twenty six percent of deaths could be avoided with more sensible consumption. Of course alcohol is not the only cause of murder, but the percentage of those which are clearly highlights the nature of alcohol as a personality altering drug which can be fatally dangerous in the wrong situation.
Ultimately there is nothing more important than a life, however tempting a night binge drinking with friends seems at the time. So next time you’re hitting the town with your friends, or sitting down to pre-drinks before you head out to a club, take a second to think about how you want your night to end. If you don’t think you can handle the responsibility of drunken decisions, then maybe you shouldn’t be drinking at all.
*All views expressed in this article are the author’s, and do not necessarily represent the views of ‘It’s the Drink Talking’ or of Alcohol Concern.