What can be said about alcohol that hasn't been said already? It's the last legal (recreational) drug, and despite all of the chatter about poppers, crystal and coke, it is the #1 drug of choice for the queer community. There are a number of reasons why this is so: cultural homophobia causes undue stress and anxiety, social aspects of the gay community are centered on bars and nightclubs, and fear of coming out of the closet or rejection by loved ones. Those are just a few of the many reasons why queers outstrip our straight brothers and sisters in alcohol consumption (our rates of alcohol abuse are 2 to 3 times higher than the Hets). Add to that the fact that, unlike many other drugs, drinking alcohol is socially acceptable, not only in the gay subculture, but in the mainstream as well. You go out for drinks to catch up with a long-lost friend, have a glass or two of wine with dinner, hit the pub on Friday night with your co-workers, or sip down some mimosas over brunch. Booze is everywhere.
There's a fine line between alcohol use and alcohol abuse, a line that gets blurrier with each drink. A lot of recent studies have shown that having a glass of wine or beer each day (especially for men) is actually good for you. But for some people, having more than one or two drinks a week seems excessive. Some people have a higher tolerance and can have a lot of drinks in an evening without getting too shitty, whereas a cheap date gets blitzed off of one bottle of Zima. It's different for everybody. That's why the real question has to do with why you drink.
Do you drink to get fucked up? Do you get fucked up every day? Do you get drunk even when you don't really want to? Does your drinking affect other aspects of your life, like relationships with friends, roommates and lovers? Do you get your bills paid on time? Does it affect your work? Does your drinking lead to other risky behaviors like having unprotected sex with random strangers or driving drunk? If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, you just might have a problem with alcohol.
is alcohol, anyway?
Also, your body needs water to absorb alcohol. So, if you aren't drinking water, your body will start pulling it from reserves. This is why you get dehydrated when you drink, and your hangover the next day is a direct result of this. The best thing to do at the end of a night of drinking is to have a lot of water and sober up a bit before you fall asleep. You'll feel a lot better in the morning.
The other problem with alcohol lowering your inhibitions is that when you're drunk you tend to throw a lot of your own rules out the window. A lot of us go out to the bars to meet guys, and to hook up for the night. You're hot, horny, and boozed up. You get back to his place to fuck, but you don't have any condoms on you and he's fresh out. Normally you're both always safe, but at this point you're way too horned up and getting condoms would be such a hassle. You're too drunk to care, so you fuck anyway. Now, on top of your hangover, you have two things to regret in the morning, and some regrets are a lot more permanent than a hangover.
One of the biggest reasons that most guys have unprotected butt-sex has to do with using drugs, and it usually affects guys who are normally safe but break their own rules when they're high or drunk. A simple way to avoid this problem is to plan ahead. If you know you're going out to the bars, and you plan on getting a little shit-faced, and there is the possibility of hooking up, then bring some condoms just in case. Also, the gay bars in Seattle have free condoms available. Grab a couple while you're there. If you can't find them, ask someone on staff. If it's a place that you go to regularly, find out where they keep the condoms so you know where they are when you need them.
Also, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that alcohol and other drugs don’t go well together. Coke and booze is a particularly dangerous combination, causing the highest number of drug related fatalities. Remember, alcohol is a depressant and slows everything down. If you start taking other drugs that speed things up it can wreak havoc on your heart.
So, if you're gonna get wasted, take steps to make sure you still play safe with your tricks. And, if you think you might have a problem with drinking too much, or know somebody who does, there are plenty of queer and queer-friendly places to go for help. Remember: drink smart, drink safe!
For more info on party drugs check out "Drugs In Partyland"
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