Are young people these days drinking less alcohol and taking less drugs? And if so, is this a good thing… or a bad thing? Join me, Brenda-Lee Brendansson, on an exploration of this phenomenon. I promise it will be an enriching journey.
Do you drink alcohol? Have you ever gone to a party, expecting there to be alcohol (a fair assumption), and arrived with a case of beers/cider/wine/vodka only to realise that not only were you the only one to have brought alcohol, but that you were the only one to have brought any type of mind-altering substance, period?! I have experienced this first hand. I brought two ciders to a ‘get-together’ at a friend’s place and ended up feeling like a degenerate.
Why would young people have a party without drugs?
I used to think the stereotypical art student would be crazy, into novel experiences and eager to experiment with drugs, but that seems to be a myth as well. An art student friend of mine explained that some of her peers feel consuming drugs and alcohol is cheating and they would rather be weird in a sober state. This seems understandable, but why push it to the extreme, why not be sober 95% of the time. 95 times out of 100 is pretty sober to me. Having tried shrooms, I know they are missing out. So, really who are they trying to impress? What are they trying to prove?
Unless you’re in high school, everyone knows that drugs in themselves do not make a person cool. There is nothing more boring than a stoner who only spends their time talking about weed itself and legalisation. So, drugs don’t make you interesting, but not taking drugs doesn’t make you more interesting either.
I believe it is necessary to point out that the last time I got drunk was in August and I am writing this in December. The last time alcohol even touched my lips was a month ago (edit: okay, I have been writing this article over many days and Xmas was just a few days ago, so I drank wine with my meal). Alcohol is not an appealing substance to me because already at my age (late twenties), the cost/reward ratio does not tip in my favour. The fun has to be really worth the hang-over. I started drinking wine with meals at 12, but didn’t get drunk until I was an exchange student in Slovakia when I would get drunk about once a week. It was during this time that I realised that alcohol sucked. I’ve never had a more depressing bad trip, than the ones I have had on alcohol.
Based on my personal experience and articles online, it seems that young people are more puritanical than before. I hate it when people compare generations to one another. One cannot help but think that people who diss their own generation are getting their opinions from their disgruntled parents and not from their own appreciation of their peers. How can anyone say baby boomers were better/worse than the previous/current generations? We come from them, so it is not like we could “skip” the shitty generations anyway (the 90ies). We learn from our mistakes… or at least some of us do.
Some people might disagree with the statement that youngsters these days are better behaved. A good example of a youth culture that doesn’t act in a very wholesome way is hipsters. Now hold on a minute, I know there are many different kinds of hipsters, just like there are cybergoth people and medieval or Victorian goth people (and many more!). I am talking about the hipsters on Vice who will advise you on how to get the best ergot high or which poppers to take before engaging in anal sex. Judging from them, you would think youth culture is quite decadent.
But really, whether current youth culture is less drug-oriented than previous ones is not what I want to focus on. I want to focus on those who abstain, no matter which generation they are from.
I understand people ditching alcohol just like I have ditched most alcohol in my life in favor of other substances. But puritans don’t replace alcohol with anything! Are they just goody-goodies? There are some in every generation! Maybe I mistakenly believe that people today should be more liberated than those of generations-past, but then again, if I think of all the pilgrims who left Europe because they were squares, I realise now that there will be squares in the future as well. People not only like being squares, but they feel better for it.
“So are you saying drinking more and consuming drugs more freely is liberating?”
I am not advocating an unhealthy lifestyle, however, I think people should be free to put what they want in their bodies without being judged as morally weak. There are plenty of people who can consume drugs and alcohol in a way that respects their bodies and their need for pleasure… and it is a need.
My point about my generation being more puritanical than before isn’t solid. What is interesting though is that these modern puritans also have a modern way of expressing it. People nowadays (and sometimes with good reason) are trying to be as natural as possible. This can be expressed in smart and stupid ways which I will let you sort out for yourselves: eating organic/vegan/raw, avoiding carcinogens in hygiene products, refusing vaccinations, favoring alternative medicine over western medicine, using natural birth control over the hormonal regulation of the pill, renewed interest in the esoteric, etc… Among those people, some might be open to smoking weed and doing shrooms because they are natural, but some might avoid mind-altering substances altogether, because it isn’t our pure consciousness. This reminds me of religious people who oppose sex and masturbation unless it is used for “useful” procreative purposes
One article speaks of the “Ab Fab Effect” (Absolutely Fabulous is a great show, by the way!). Some people might be turned off drinking and drugs because of problems these things have caused in their families and communities. In no way do I want to invalidate those people’s experiences. However, I don’t think that because you come from a family like that, that that means that you can never enjoy a glass of wine. (There was a lot of that’s in that sentence.) My mum and one of my best friends grew up in families where both parents were alcoholics and yet, they themselves are capable of enjoying drinks on a regular basis without falling into excess. It isn’t necessary to respond to one extreme with another. It should also be pointed out that it is fully possible for a family to be dysfunctional without there being a substance abuse problem. I am no mental health counselor, but I’ve done my rounds on self-help forums. Earlier I mentioned that puritans usually are moralising. Sometimes a parent puts the child in the role of the parent and expects their child to take care of the actual parent’s emotional and sometimes physical needs, when it should really be the other way around. This is called parentification. The thing is, children, especially grown children can settle into this role as parent to their parents and feel like they need to set the example for their parent or lecture their parent. Your parent is an adult, they have been raised already, if they expect their child to raise them, then chances are, the parents are unraisable. Children cannot raise their parents, so no matter how many lectures or examples you set, they (the actual parents) will not learn their lesson. If you abstain from alcohol/drugs simply because you want to set an example for your parents (even if you are no longer in contact with them, you might want to set a sort of symbolic example), then maybe you should re-examine your motivation for this. If you abstain because you fear you might turn into your parent, well that’s another story.
For recreational purposes only
By the way, I am only discussing drug use for recreational purposes. I am not talking about people who are self-medicating. I even resent the fact that I even have to mention that. I am well aware that for some people it isn’t all fun and games. “Yeah, well,” says the most annoying devil’s advocate in my head, “if you’re such an unstuck up hedonistic free spirit, why don’t you try heroin then… for recreational purposes?” Ugh… I don’t try it because it is highly addictive and damaging… and that is a scientific fact. Maybe if I am dying from cancer or something I will try it just as a sort of last hoorah. I think people who are self-medicating should seek help from a certified mental health practioner. Some people do try certain drugs for fun and get hooked others don’t, but some drugs are more addictive than others… and some drugs are safe provided you do them responsibly, oh and some can not only be fun, but beneficial. I don’t have all the answers, but abstinence doesn’t seem to be the answer. So, I might not have any solutions for you, but we can go by process of elimination.
“Yeah well, maybe that is why people don’t want to try weed because they’re worried that they’ll become stoners or get schizophrenia.” Look, I don’t know if it is even possible for those at risk of developing schizophrenia to know they are at risk, and even then they represent a minority. You might even develop schizophrenia from worshipping our feline overlords as well, but to me it is well worth the risk! These are the things that make life worth living! You’ve got to die of something, so choose your poison. “What if my poison is cookie dough?!” God you’re lame, why did I even invite you to this discussion?
You don’t need drugs to have fun
Look, I get it, there is more to life than drugs and alcohol. A lot more in fact! I like baking banana bread, going on bike rides and huffing my cat’s tummy smell, but sometimes, among adults, we want to take our fun to the MAX! And that isn’t possible if we cannot alter our consciousness. We can have fun without drugs and alcohol, just as much fun as the puritans have. Puritans aren’t having more sober fun than we are; they are just limiting themselves to sober fun.
Puritans are not better than us weaklings for abstaining even though many behave like this makes them better. They are also missing out on a whole load of fun. Alcohol does suck, but you shouldn’t be putting all mind-altering substances in the same category. Do your research and think for yourself not only in regards to your health, but also in regards to your morals. Many of these new puritans are atheists. So why then do they adhere to moral norms based on religion? Religious values are transmitted through culture and this culture in turn influences our laws. It isn’t sufficient to just take God out of those values, we have to examine the root cause of those values in the first place.
Not in my backyard
Another thing that bugs me is how we need to go abroad to places like Thailand, Laos, Nepal, etc… to “sin”. Obviously, western tourists like sinning, but as long as it isn’t happening in their own backyards. Isn’t this hypocritical?
Puritans might look down on those of us who succumb to bodily pleasures, but the truth is, I look down on them for attempting to hide their animal natures. No matter how much healthy mash I might have eaten as an infant, no matter how many educational games I played, no matter how sheltered I am, society and its wordly ways still managed to corrupt me. We are predisposed to being corrupt; we want to be corrupted so badly. No matter how much inner peace you cultivate or raw food you eat, you are screwed up, don’t try to hide it. It’s as unhealthy to let your super ego control you, it is to let your id run amok.
So when in doubt, just use Oscar Wilde’s rule of thumb: “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”
Catch you guys later!