Newport Beach, CA

The 7 Days of Drinking

T.S. Lowry

Alcohol is a vice that goes seven days strong

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From reaching euphoria to boredom to escaping to addiction, people drink for an endless amount of reasons.

The first time I got drunk was during my sophomore year of high school. I started off with Jager and Red Bull. Some people call it a Jager Bomb. I call it the door to a world I always wanted to enter.

What followed that night were Apple Martinis (Appletinis for the more sophisticated type), more Jager, surfing Myspace and, surprisingly, a good first drunk experience.

I had a good time. I wasn’t hooked. I didn’t get arrested. I didn’t get in trouble. My parents didn’t find out. I didn’t even puke.

It wasn’t until my senior year when I started using alcohol as my key to acceptance, popularity, and being the person I always wanted to be.

Fast forward to present day and alcohol has turned more into an embarrassing curse than a cure for shyness and social awkwardness.

Like many people who have thrown too many back, alcohol has turned more into a problem than a social gateway. Stories of the best moments of the night turned in for wonders of who I need to apologize to (or if there’s money left in my bank account).

Alcohol is no longer the answer to a night of fun — it’s a seven-day shitstorm flooding with anxiety and broken dreams.

Let’s start with Thursday morning.

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Note: This takes place during most weeks in 2015, a time when I worked in an office as a sportswriter. These were some of my recurring thoughts during this time.

Thursday

Friday is a day away. I might drink tonight … or I might drink tonight. I need to take the edge off. I need to escape. I’m tired of writing for The Man seven days a week. I miss my friends from back home. I’m definitely drinking tonight. My fogginess is finally gone and the bags and dark circles underneath my eyes left with it. I want to let loose. Plus, what else is a recent college graduate supposed to do on the weekend? I haven’t even hit my mid-to-late twenties — I’m supposed to make dumb decisions via getting drunk.

Friday

I’m so hungover. I wonder if people notice. The bags are back because of a lack of sleep and dehydration. I’m also carrying a large cup of coffee and don’t stop to say hi to co-workers. I need to get through the day and call it an early evening…

A party song from my not-so-distant past pops up and I start to wonder what people are doing tonight. It’s Friday and the only thing to do on Friday night is party. Time to Gchat my co-workers…

The Gchat data is in and it’s saying the group is planning on eating at a restaurant and going to the bars after. I can’t afford dinner, so I’m going to make up an excuse that they will likely believe since the writers of this company work days, nights, and weekends. I really do have to cover the Pac-12 game tonight. I’ll meet them out for some late-night drinks.

Saturday

Last night was crazy. I can’t believe how many shots we did. No wonder why I don’t remember coming home. Shit, no wonder why I puked. I wish it wasn’t the college football season. On top of this hangover, I have to cover the games today…

I’m tired of writing. One more game and then I’m going to meet up with the guys for drinks in Newport Beach.

Sunday

Did I really say that last night? I don’t remember. It could be worse. At least I don’t have to write today…

Shit, I missed the big play and didn’t do a post for it on Saturday night. I hope my employer isn’t pissed tomorrow morning. I did write seven articles on top of the top-25 rankings, so that’s probably good enough for, I don’t know, a fucking Saturday.

Monday

The bags and circles are back. My brain is a foggy mess. I hate going into an office. I hate the drivers in California. I don’t have time to make breakfast. I’ll get a burrito at Jan’s (the restaurant in my work building)…

Looks like my employer is pissed, as usual. Everyone is also going through what I’m going through — irritability and hate toward being at work this morning.

Tuesday

Fuck work. Fuck my novel. Fuck writing seven-plus articles a day, even if most of them are under 250 words. Fuck sports. Fuck everything…

The content meeting wasn’t so bad. I had ideas and we covered everything this past weekend … except for the big play, which my employer made sure to remind me of with a dose of “we need to do better.” I thought eight articles on the weekend was doing better. Ungrateful…

I need to read or start my novel tonight. That was the plan in college — a sportswriter by day and an aspiring novelist by night. But I’m so tired and my brain is cloudy. I wish I didn’t have to write so much for work. It would make writing my novel that much easier if I had more free time and my mind wasn’t gone by the time I got home because of words…

I could use a drink. It’s only Tuesday, though. I tend to overdo it on the weekends, but I don’t want to turn into one of those people who drinks every night. I don’t like drinking — I just like to party.

Wednesday

I feel like a human again and my back-to-normal eyes agree. Conversations are easier and, you know what, I kind of like my job. Also, one more day and then someone will have something fun to do on Thursday night.

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That was a toned-down version of my “7 Days of Drinking.”

The problem with booze, my vice, this evil, is that … well, it’s not (usually) worth it. Drunk stories are fun, filling in the gaps from the night before. Alcohol appears to enhance everything and it turns a good time into a great time.

However, are the four or so hours spent at the bars worth the withdrawals?Are they worth coasting through the week and being stuck at a dead-end job? Are they worth the hangovers?

Maybe you haven’t been drinking long enough to experience anxiety and other consequences of drinking. Maybe you know how to control yourself. Then again, how many people have said I’m never drinking again … yet find themselves drinking again?

Drinking, at least for me, lasts seven days, even when I only drink once a week. It makes Monday morning a daze and Tuesday unbearable.

I push off essays and chapters of novels. I sleep in. I don’t work out. I spend money I don’t have on food I shouldn’t eat. I spend the weekend on the couch. Sometimes I don’t even go outside.

While the seven days above were before I knew blacking out was a common occurrence (Sarah Hepola’s memoir, Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget, helped me realize that, and it’s also one of the best books I’ve ever read), they were also before the irritability and anxiety started to take over. Before I knew I might have a problem.

I worked a lot and missed family and friends back in Colorado, but alcohol was still my pal. It still helped me open social doors.

I’m not the biggest problem drinker I know and I have no desire to drink every night, but I’m starting to notice how debilitating booze can be to friends, family, relationships, health, success, my liver.

I wouldn’t put myself in the “alcoholic” category yet. Then again, who would?

It took me time (and a lot of reflecting) to realize how harmful this wonder drug is and will continue to be.

It took me five years to finish my undergrad. Most people finish in four. That’s four years of heavy drinking for many college students (more if they started drinking in high school or took a victory lap). It’s hard to break a four-year habit, especially when it’s as wonderful and addictive as alcohol.

Many drinkers have worse stories, stories that change their lives. But drinking is still damaging to me. It has also enhanced my life in many ways — because life is boring sometimes and alcohol has a funny way of making it less bland when you’re in the process of drinking.

It’s the worst drug on the planet yet so many people continue to sing its praises.

Alcohol is the little devil on your shoulder who tells you to take the sinful route. This is going to be so much fun, alcohol will tell you as it holds out a mysterious bottle for you to take.

Alcohol is a spell that continues to win.

It’s an evil I can’t shake. A vice I need. If I could go back in time and put down that first shot of Jager … I wouldn’t. That’s the scary thing about alcohol’s powers. It controls you and makes you think irrationally. Unfortunately, many drinkers don’t know they have a problem until they have a problem. Or until it’s too late.

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Just a guy who likes to cruise the aisles at the local 7-Eleven

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