There exists a dangerous stereotype that permeates the high school and young adult experience. From an early age, young people are conditioned to drink without even thinking about it. They witness adults at dinner parties, social gatherings, sporting events and celebrations enjoying a drink or two — or four. TV and movie screens light up with images of young people partying with alcohol. They go out with friends, and everyone seems to be drinking.
Alcohol is not only accepted in our culture — it’s encouraged. Therein lies the trap.
What Is the Alcohol Trap?
Most people’s first experience with drinking too much alcohol is not positive. You probably hated the taste. The sense of dizziness or disorientation may have worried you. If you were underage, you might have felt uncomfortable or guilty. Then, there’s the inevitable bad hangover the next day.
This is the Alcohol Trap. You learn to suppress negative emotions about that first bad experience. After all, you might think — why would so many people love drinking if it wasn’t great? If you have another bad encounter with alcohol, you suppress that too.
One would think that enough horrible experiences would dissuade you from ever drinking again. Yet, against all logic, the social acceptability and common usage of alcohol are powerful and persuasive. The Alcohol Trap has tricked many young people into believing excessive drinking is normal and even good.
What Does the Alcohol Trap Look Like?
Everyone has a unique set of circumstances, so the Alcohol Trap looks different for each person. In most cases, it’s tied to a strong desire to belong. Here are some situations that can drag young people into the Alcohol Trap:
- Drinking to join in with the crowd.
- Drinking to have fun at a drunken party.
- Drinking to keep up with everyone in the group.
- Drinking because you believe it’s a rite of passage.
- Drinking as part of an initiation, such as a sorority or fraternity.
- Out-drinking your friends in an urge to compete.
- Drinking to unwind or de-stress from the pressures of school, family or life.
- Drinking to feel good.
How to Escape From the Alcohol Trap
For many young adults, this twisted relationship with alcohol ends once they graduate. For others, the Alcohol Trap becomes a lifestyle of partying, weekend binging and hapless happy hours. When alcohol is in control, chaos rules. Thankfully, the Alcohol Trap is not inescapable. You can do things to end its destructive cycle, such as:
- Examine why you drink: Excuses like “I like the taste” or “I do it to be sociable” are myths. If you examine the real reasons you drink, you’ll discover your alcohol habit has no benefits at all.
- Escape temptation: Avoid settings or situations where you’ll be tempted to drink, like bars or alcohol-fueled gatherings.
- Find other avenues of enjoyment: The world is filled with tons of activities for every type of person. If you’re into exercise, join a gym. If you love adventure, explore the great outdoors. If you like to learn new things, take a class or learn a new hobby.
Need Help Escaping the Alcohol Trap?
While most people flirt with the Alcohol Trap in their adolescence, some never escape it. If you or someone you care for is ensnared in alcohol use or addiction, help is available at Gateway Foundation. Our caring, professional services will give you the strength and coping skills you need to find freedom from the Alcohol Trap in a life of recovery. Contact us today.