One of those things that you keep on telling yourself (and possibly others, if you're the sharing type) over the years, whenever you get seriously smashed and wake up the next day retching and wishing someone would surgically remove your brain so it would stop hurting. Each time it is said with decreased conviction. No doubt the first few times you really meant it. You really thought that you'd never touch alcohol again. Ever. These days, if you say it at all, it's with a touch of self-deprecating humor. The joke is on you, and you know it but you still say it. You've learned not to take yourself too seriously, at least when it comes to your ability or desire to stay away from alcohol indefinitely. Or maybe you really have learned moderation. Most of us do, eventually.
Maybe after the first time you got seriously drunk you became a teetotaler for five or six months. Then one night you were out on the town with friends, and everyone else was drinking, so you had a drink. Or two. "Hey, this isn't so bad," you think to yourself. "Actually, it feels pretty damn good. Drinking is fun! I should do this more often. I wanna tell you Tom, I love you, dude. I mean it in like, a straight way. You're a really great dude, did you know that?"
So it begins again. You go back to drinking "in moderation", by which young people often mean "getting drunk enough that you laugh a lot, aggressively hit on anyone and everyone regardless of your actual sexual orientation, and stumble a bit while leaving the party, but not so drunk that you wake up wanting to die the next morning".
Then, one night, you go too far. Again. Maybe it's worse, this time. Maybe you can't remember anything that happened after 10PM*. Maybe when you wake up you don't even know where you are (Or with whom). Congratulations, you've managed to scare yourself. And possibly your friends, if you still have any, after the horrible things that you can't remember saying to them.
The worst part is that you can't remember what happened. It's also the best part. The few hazy moments that you can recall are less mortifying than they would be in context. It's easier to dismiss having spent the entire party lying in your own vomit in the hallway while being stepped over (and occasionally on)** when you can't recall it. It's easier when you remember crawling into bed, miserable, but conveniently don't remember your friend cleaning you up, getting (most of) the vomit out of your hair and dragging you home, despite your mumbled protests.
Theoretically, you eventually grow up, cut your hair, get a real job, learn when to stop drinking, when to curb yourself, and when to let someone else drive home (in no specific order).
Alcohol abuse is a perfectly normal part of the growing up experience (although I would hardly go so far as to say necessary; I'm told that many people have had a perfectly fulfilling
young-adulthood without drinking themselves under the table every weekend). Most people grow out of it. Most people get through it without suffering any lasting damage.
Some people don't.
DISCLAIMER: I am not advocating an alcoholic lifestyle. Abusing
alcohol is bad for you. Just because I spent my teenage years in a drunken stupor doesn't mean that you
should. I will not be held responsible for any alcohol related
mishaps that can and may occur as a result of reading this writeup. If you pass out in your own vomit in a hallway at a party, people will step over or on you (probably both), especially if said hallway leads to the bathroom. You have been warned.
* This happened to me once when I was a foolish teenager. I've never gotten that drunk since; it shook me up pretty badly.
**This has never happened to me, but happened to a friend of mine at a party I went to. I wasn't exactly sober enough to help him out much, unfortunately.