I really think it is time for an intervention.
I have been doing some research on you, Wisconsin. I think I live in a drunken state. Out of 50 states, we rank number 6 as a top drinking state. We rank first in binge drinking. There is a bar closer to our house than a church. Drinking is a huge part of our culture. If you are trying to quit drinking, this is not the state you want to be in. Everything is tied to drinking here with the exception of school events. I suspect that more parents would attend school events if alcohol was served. I have even seen alcohol served at church events over various denominations.
Last week I spoke a little about briefly getting into a drinking crowd. I don’t have a problem with people out having a fun time drinking responsibly. It is the binge drinking that I don’t like. I have seen it wreck too many lives.
When I was 17, my friend’s parents were gone for the weekend and I stayed at her house. We decided to mix whatever liquor we could find in her parents cabinet. It was the most disgusting concoction ever, but I drank some of it. I remember giggling a lot and my legs didn’t seem to work right. We invited some friends over to play a game of truth or dare which resulted in a goldfish being eaten. Before our friends arrived, a squad car parked in front of my friend’s house. We thought her parents made good on their threats of having someone keep an eye on her. My friend hid me in the storage closet off of her parents bedroom. I remember tripping over a large roasting pan and falling down in a dark closet full of junk. Turns out she just lived on a main road in a small town. That was really my first experience with drinking.
Skip ahead a couple of years later when I was 21. Right after I met my future husband, I was on a dart league with him and a few others at the local bar. I was single, but at the time I didn’t realize that within a few weeks I wouldn’t be. A man across the bar started buying me shots. I thought it would be rude to not drink them. Then he offered me a ride home because I was in no shape to drive. What a ploy! Fortunately, since we lived in the same apartment building, Paul was my ride home. The room was spinning all night. I spent the night puking and was too sick to make it to class the next day. I felt out of control of my body and it was scary feeling that way. I decided since it was self-inflicted that I would not get notes from the class I missed. I ended up doing really bad on the next test. I decided that I was never going to drink that much again and haven’t. Even when it meant leaving behind “free” drinks.
Turning 21 is a rite of passage here. It is encouraged to get really sticking drunk on that day. Even the first drunk driving offense is a traffic violation. We see billboards advertising alcohol next to signs that tell us how many drunk driving deaths occurred during the year. Newspapers advertise liquor next to public service ads cautioning drinking.
Last week I found out why the police were at my son’s ex-friend’s house. The local paper mentioned an intoxicated boy having a physical altercation with his parents on our road. Although this boy started taking his friends down the wrong path, I can’t help feeling sorry for him. His old friends are no longer allowed to hang out with him. While my son and his friends are enjoying the nice weather outside, this kid is locked inside of addiction at a young age.
We have already spoken to our teens telling them that if they ever need a ride home that we will pick them up anytime no questions asked. I don’t want my teens out drinking, but I would rather have them call me then get into a car with a drunk. I don’t know too many people that had their first drink at 21.
I have known people that died and killed others from drunk driving. My friend’s dad spent years in prison for vehicular homicide while intoxicated. He missed his daughter’s graduation and wedding. He went right back to drinking after prison. One morning he arrived at her house drunk. He hopped into her car with her while she was taking her kids to school. After dropping her kids off, he became belligerent and refused to leave her car. She had to call the police on him outside of her kids school. He had to go back to jail. She was heartbroken.
I also heard of a story of a friend of a friend that was trying to get pregnant. She was a couple of days late, but decided to take a pregnancy test after going out. That night she got wasted enough to get kicked out of the bar. She passed out in the back seat of her friend’s car. The next day she found out she was pregnant. A couple of days later she had a miscarriage. Maybe she thought that it was early enough that a night of binge drinking wouldn’t matter, but it did.
I had another friend that went out drinking a few weeks before she got married. A group of us were sitting in the living room when she went in the other room with her fiancé. We heard a scuffling, then we heard a fight. My friend’s fiancé hit her that night. The next day, she wasn’t sure what to do. The wedding was planned and coming up fast. Her fiancé was so drunk that he could not remember hitting her the night before. They got married anyway.
Binge drinking and domestic violence are not as rare as you might think. Just ask anyone around here what they think the chances of fights are after a day of binge drinking and a Packer loss.
The stories go on and on. Domestic violence, cheating, divorce, cirrhosis, getting fired at work, drunk driving, incarceration, and even death. I’ve seen all of these things happen in this state. It is the dark side of our drinking culture. That is why I don’t like binge drinking. Nothing good ever comes out of it even though it is portrayed as being so much fun. I’m thankful that my parents were not alcoholics like half of my friends parents were/are. In response to growing up with alcoholic parents, some of my friends decided not to drink. Others tend to struggle.
I am glad we had this little talk. I know it is not going to change things, that is just the way our culture is. Maybe you will have a better understanding of life in our drunken state.