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What drives us to binge drink? Is it our pursuit to find love?

Years of working in pubs has me asking one question. Why do we do this to ourselves?

Andrew McGinley

IT MAKES US feel uncontrollably ill, devours a substantial portion of our hard earned cash and entices us to lose control of our most basic morals and manners, typically resulting in some outrageous act or outburst towards somebody close to you.

An ordinary session on the drink often means completely erasing 3-4 hours of valuable memory from what are supposed to be ‘good times’, begging the dreaded question for so many the following afternoon, “What the f**k happened last night?”.

For several days after, motivation stoops to pitiful levels with college assignments being postponed and the absolute bare minimum of work being completed as we try our utmost to avoid the smothering blanket of doom which is commonly referred to as “The Fear”.

Working in pubs, I’ve seen it all

Years of working in pubs, witnessing all of the above being inflicted on the poor souls of this country on a weekly basis along with a few years of my own intense drinking sessions have left me asking one question. Why? What possesses us, despite continuously learning the consequences the hard way, to consistently consume excess amounts of drink and in turn summon all of this damage upon our health, livelihoods and pockets?

Most people reading this will shun the very idea that there exists any reason for them going out and getting “legless” every weekend.

They might suggest that they simply do it for the craic or because everyone else does it, but I’m confident, without any expertise in psychology that somewhere in the subconscious of us all there lies a reason for these actions.

Of course there is. It is simply unnatural for us to voluntarily endure any degree of despair like this without any kind of a motif.

Binge drinking is the type of consumption I’m referring to here, not casually meeting a few people or venturing out on your own for a few nice quiet pints in the evening. Socialising of that kind has simple reasoning which speaks for itself. I’m talking about spending a couple of hundred euro, plastering yourself to within arm’s reach of the bar so you won’t have to wait too long to be served and loading your body to capacity with as much alcohol as time and money will allow you to until you completely black out.

So what exactly is it that drives us as individuals to drink like this?

A confidence issue

Perhaps it’s a confidence issue where the more timid and shy of us characters thrive off the fluidity that comes with being intoxicated. Social situations which on a normal day would cause a small bit of anxiety or nerves from fearing what people think about what is said and done are transformed after a few drinks. Everyone suddenly becomes less observant which makes for a more relaxing time.

It could be that getting drunk provides an escape from reality for a small section of the week. A particular period in life might be difficult to cope with due to the various stresses and pressures that inevitably come with being human. Any opportunity to simply forget part of this miserable time, in the company of people in a similar state, serves as an opportunity to relish.

There is no doubt that for the majority of these binge drinkers the thrill of losing full control of your actions in a bustling environment like a nightclub, with little regard for the consequences is as legitimate as reason one could find. The mystery of where this hazy path of the unknown will lead seems to serve as the central motif for many a drunken escapade.

‘I can handle my drink’

Another possible explanation could be instilled clearly within the aura of our now legendary drinking culture, where one’s ability to “handle it” can be seen as a direct reflection on how tough said person is or what degree of cool they possess.

Attempts to display what is the rare ability to consume inhuman amounts of alcohol and maintain a respectable demeanour often result in dismal failure. Failure to secure this ‘legendary’ status is only seen as a challenge for the following weekend which is then approached with even more determination.

The final and most plausible motive I will suggest is one that most will struggle to admit. That is the window of opportunity provided by a heavy night on the beer for all the singletons out there. One’s chance of finding any degree of loving is immediately enhanced by venturing out and putting all that Dutch courage to some use.

Keep an eye out for your next friend who is lucky enough to actually meet someone on one of these nights. Note how if any sort of relationship is formed after their drunken encounter, it will come hand in hand with your one time partner in crime becoming notably absent from future rounds of Jager Bombs.

Identifying your own reasoning may be difficult at first. Maybe you’re already conscious of it, or perhaps you simply don’t care and anybody who questions your favourite pastime should kindly mind their own business.

In my own case, I interrogated myself a number of months ago after one too many mornings waking up feeling like I was wearing someone else’s skin, being miserably broke and possessing just enough desire to get up and shower myself. After plenty of idle pondering, I soon arrived at a conclusion. Since that day, I’ve scarcely felt the need to drink any more than I should.

Andrew McGinley is a 21-year-old blogger from County Galway. He currently works in a bar in London. You can follow his blog here

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