Wisdom on Drinking

Zubair Hirji
Zubair Hirji

“If you’re drinking and using substances, it should be fun. If the hangovers, side effects or disruptions to your lifestyle start to outweigh any positives, it might be time to reflect on your relationship with substances and whether it’s masking any other issues.”

— Julia Burnham

Coming into UBC, you’ve already been through a lot — more than a lot of first years before you. That doesn’t mean do stupid shit.

Let us amend that last statement: don’t do stupid shit with permanent consequences. There’s a difference between daring someone to drink from a sprinkler and taking a dare to sprint onto Broadway at night. At minimum, you’ve worked hard to get into UBC and you’re surviving a global pandemic, so there’s a fair bit to celebrate — but the thing about celebrations involving alcohol is that once you’ve had a few, you tend to keep finding things to celebrate. It’s your birthday? Drink! It’s the weekend? Drink! Did okay on a test … Saw a friend you haven’t seen in a few weeks … Got a good table at the local pub? If you’re not careful, you might just keep finding reasons.

That said, this isn’t an article preaching abstinence, moreso promoting a certain view of drinking — if you drink, alcohol is best seen as one of a number of options to help facilitate fun. Put differently, alcohol isn’t a precondition to having fun, it’s just one of many things that could lead to fun and can easily be replaced by a fun atmosphere or cool activity. As you continue on in your legal drinking life, you’ll likely find events where you’ll be surprised to hear that there’s a pre (short for pre-game) happening beforehand. This is a sign that the host might’ve misunderstood alcohol as not just a tool on their belt, but a necessity for fun — take it from folks who know when we say that alcohol is far from a guarantor of happy, care-free times.

One last tip on alcohol is that it’s widely understood as something that makes regular emotions bigger. On the upswing, it makes highs feel higher and helps you go with the flow — on the other side, it can make dips in your mood feel like canyons and make it a lot harder to get back to neutral. Unfortunately, it isn’t even 50/50 when it comes to the highs and lows — in larger quantities, alcohol affects your emotional regulation, meaning it’ll take you deeper into those canyons than you may have fallen otherwise.

You’ve probably been taught this stuff since you were young, but understand that university life and new social atmospheres can make it easier to forget those Grade 10 slideshows and harder to resist a weekly rager at your buddy’s place. Just keep in mind that moderation is the name of the game and that if you’re around folks who aren’t likely to respect that, you’re better off hitting the road — there are gonna be more, better friends who don’t force it on you. It’s just a matter of finding ’em (like in room 2208 of the Nest).

“If you’re drinking and using substances, it should be fun. If the hangovers, side effects or disruptions to your lifestyle start to outweigh any positives, it might be time to reflect on your relationship with substances and whether it’s masking any other issues.”

— Julia Burnham
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