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Why I’m sick of people asking me why I don’t drink alcohol

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That’s right ladies and gentlemen: I am, in fact, a student that doesn’t drink. Pretty weird, huh?

It’s difficult to know where to begin when starting this article. Normally I’m writing up some kind of review or interview and I have something spectacular – like a band’s new album or an upcoming tour – to go on. But here, I’m explaining something that is, for me, a simple fact about my day-to-day life. It seems to be other people that find the fact I’m teetotal extraordinary.

And of course when I say “other people”, I am talking about a small and very shallow minority. The vast majority of my friends are totally accepting of my choice to abstain from alcohol and I love them all the more for it.

But still, whenever I go out and I end up buying a pint of Coke instead of a lager or refuse a Jägerbomb (which is, by the way, the stupidest invention on the planet), I always end up being asked the inevitable question: “Why don’t you drink?”

And this question endlessly annoys me – not only because it’s something I hear night in, night out – but because the people that ask seem to assume that I need to explain myself to them. I wouldn’t go up to someone holding a Guinness at the bar and ask “Why are you drinking alcohol tonight?”

The reason I don’t drink is the same reason as to why you do drink: because it’s a choice that makes me happy. Maybe it doesn’t make me happy in the moment itself, but at the same time I know that the idea of putting what is basically poison into my system is not something that appeals to me. My liver is worth more to me than a fun night out which will – most likely – end in a hangover anyway.

I have never once been attracted to drinking because of the health reasons; because I hate the idea of doing something I regret; because I don’t want to be some woman’s “drunken mistake” (or vice versa); because I don’t like the idea of waking up in the morning feeling like death warmed over. I've looked at people who woke up saying “I’m never drinking again!” only to get drunk 12 hours later and thought they were idiots. I still do.

And I don’t have some kind of “My father drank and was horrible to me” backstory – although I think that’s the level of drama some of my fellow students expect whenever they ask – it’s much simpler than that.

When I was 15 going on 16, I was nearing the tail-end of secondary school and a lot of my “friends” at the time discovered drinking. Meanwhile, I discovered heavy metal and hardcore punk. Two bands that resonated with me especially at the time were Metallica and, later, Minor Threat.

I wasn’t even an intense follower of the latter’s music, but I knew one thing about them: they were “straight edge”. I also knew that James Hetfield, Metallica’s singer/guitarist, became straight edge after alcohol brought him to rock bottom in the early 2000s. For those that don’t know, straight edge is a punk-inspired ideology that discourages drink, drugs, tobacco and promiscuous sex, and it’s a lifestyle that I have adhered to for my entire life.

Sure, some narrow-minded people may read this and thus view me as scared, unsocial, boring and not able to understand that people like Hetfield and Dave Mustaine were only damaged by alcohol because they abused it excessively.

And while I understand that “alcohol use” and “alcohol abuse” differ whole-heartedly, what I don’t understand is why other people feel they should care so much about my life choices. If I’m having a good time and you’re having a good time, who gives a fuck?

I understand that alcohol is, for some, a “social lubricant” and helps them have a good time. But when that good time can come at the expense of my health, happiness, mental clarity and complete memory, you can count me out.




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