May 12, 2023
Eri Ikezawa (she/her/hers), Low Entropy Volunteer Writer
Please note that this article discusses alcoholism.
If there was ever a vice where the saying “everything in moderation” was truly relevant, I personally would apply it to the consumption and usage of alcohol. Whether it is because of the immediate physical side effects like a hangover, or the long-term consequences of alcohol abuse like liver damage, or the hereditary predisposition to alcoholism (which is a disease for which people need support), I feel like there is an appropriate way to approach imbibing that can minimize its repercussions on our lives.
While I will always refrain from adopting a mindset of criticism and judgment, I think I hold myself to this personal standard because the byproducts of alcohol abuse can be so debilitating in the lives of the user and those who love them. Now, I highly doubt that I would become a heavy drinker as I have never struggled under peer pressure to drink; I have always been able to say “no” when I’m not in the mood. Even so, I still want to nurture good habits with my relationship with alcohol.
I personally doubled down on this outlook and belief system after I informed my father about the depression and anxiety I experienced as an adolescent. He took everything in stride, loving and compassionate, and committed to getting me whatever help and support I needed.
Once I got a better handle on my mental health, he told me something that I still carry to this day. He encouraged me to avoid drinking whenever I feel depressed, unhappy or stressed. That is, he was suggesting for me not to use alcohol as a form of escapism. In the moment, I didn’t feel what he said was polarizing one way or another, but as I have gotten older, I’ve begun to recognize that I have really heeded what he told me.
I will confess, for me, his suggestion was easy to abide by, as I don’t find myself to be much of a drinker. I had a phase in my early 20s where I certainly imbibed more in contrast to before and after, but even then, I have never struggled with turning liquor down.
I also recognize that drinking is a recreational, social activity that can have physical repercussions the following day — the infamous, despised hangover. Even when I was a full-time student in university, paying for my own tuition with my part-time job, I always told myself that if I chose to drink the previous night, I would never forgo my responsibilities the following morning, whether it was class or a shift.
There was certainly a point where I did use alcohol as a social crutch to assuage my anxiety when in larger group settings or when meeting new people — as an introvert, I’ve always been far more comfortable in the company of people with whom I am familiar. But I recognized through attending therapy to address the crux, the core, the kernel of my immediate issues, that I had been using alcohol as a bandage rather than a cure for the problem. After I started facing my anxiety head-on, I now find, while I certainly wouldn’t say I enjoy novel social experiences I am not prepared for, they are very much in the realm of possibility for me.
I guess my own personal philosophy regarding drinking alcohol is consumption in moderation — after all, sunshine all the time makes a desert. Although there are certainly moments where I truly enjoy having a few drinks, I find — especially as I grow older — that life in the absence of alcohol is equally as good (and dare I say, even better?). I personally find that, while I do not judge, persecute or condescend people for having different opinions on the matter than I do, I am content without it.
There could be multiple reasons for this to be certain, but I believe that after slowly tackling my catalysts to anxiety, I have gradually eradicated former reasons for drinking during social events to begin with. For example, following the fact I have shed friendships that no longer serve a purpose to me — after realizing that keeping people around who trigger my anxiety only caused internal disturbances, — I don’t seek to drink when I’m with friends. Another thing I have discovered is that when I began prioritizing being able to be productive and alert — especially during work — it made me feel more confident in abstaining.
But this all entirely my opinion — and my personal relationship with alcohol.
I understand and respect that I am mostly likely in the minority and many people would disagree with my perspective, and perhaps perceive me as a wet blanket (or perhaps this is, to some degree, a flicker of my former self-doubt making an unwanted appearance). I know each person has a different relationship to alcohol, and I think as long as it is not causing unwanted disruptions in one’s life, it isn’t my business to impose my views on anyone else.
I believe that, as long as people possess the introspection to understand when to scale back and the ability to turn down a glass, they possess some modicum of self-control in regard to alcohol. With that being said, there are occasions where alcohol causes chaos and calamity in one’s life; you don’t need to be an alcoholic or a heavy drinker to still have a problematic relationship with liquor. And it is important to be able to be honest with yourself if that is the case.
I think the stigma around the word “alcoholic” and the fear of missing out causes many people to repel the idea that they are dependent on it or admit that it makes them behave in ways they otherwise would not. I think there needs to be more empathy and education on alcoholism insofar that people will not feel ashamed or frightened to seek out help.
At the end of the day, I think it’s important not to come from a place of criticism or judgment. No matter what, we don’t know the struggles each individual person is enduring. So, if and when someone you have been worrying about has the wherewithal to approach you, it is crucial to be patient and supportive.
My name is Eri Ikezawa and I have an extended minor in psychology and a major in linguistics. I’m still on the path to quelling questions about myself and the direction I want to head in, but in the meantime, I have always wanted to find a way to help others and contribute to a community dedicated to personal development and self-love.
At Low Entropy, we believe changing the world starts with changing ourselves.
Founded in 2015, Low Entropy Facilitates conversations that encourage diversity and promote inclusivity.
We understand that life can be confusing at times. It can seem challenging and sometimes you may feel like no one really “gets you.” We offer an opportunity to connect with others who have the capacity to understand you.