In Grade 12, the student council president was in my homeroom, so a lot of posters and swag and propaganda and stuff got delivered to our classroom for her to use for student council purposes.
One day we got a package of anti-drinking posters. We opened them up and looked through them, and some of my classmates thought that one poster was inappropriate and shouldn't be used.
The inappropriate message? Guidelines for safer social drinking. (For example, the one part I remember was "No more than one drink per hour, no more than four drinks per occasion".) People thought this was inappropriate because the vast majority of the students in our school were under the legal drinking age, and they felt this poster was giving students permission to drink as long as they did so responsibly. So it didn't go up.
However, I saw the poster and internalized the message. Then, that summer, when I took up drinking, I followed those rules. One drink per hour, four drinks per occasion. Water in between, start on a full stomach.
And I've never had a hangover. Or a blackout. And the last time I vomited was four years before I started drinking.
This all came to mind when I saw a headline in Salon refuting the premise of another article that apparently alleges that no one is telling young women not to drink. (The article is not important to this blog post, it's just the headline that triggered this train of thought.)
My experience is consistent with the Salon headline: everyone is telling young people not to drink.
But is anyone teaching young people how to drink? Is the information about timing and spacing and what constitutes moderate consumption and what constitutes safe consumption and what the threshold is for binge drinking being provided? Or are they just being told not to do it or not to overdo it?
Quantitative guidelines fell into my hands a few months before I had my first beer, and as a result I've always been in control of my inebriation. But these guidelines were kept from my peers for fear they might imply that it's possible to drink responsibly.
How many of my peers didn't learn how to drink responsibly as a result? Or perhaps even that drinking responsibly is an option?