From earliest experimentation to habitual excess to full-blown abuse, twenty-four-year-old Koren Zailckas leads us through her experience of a terrifying trend among young girls, exploring how binge drinking becomes routine, how it becomes "the usual." A crucial book for any woman who has succumbed to oblivion through booze, or for anyone ready to face the more subtle repercussions of their own chronic over-drinking or of someone they love, Smashed is an eye-opening, wise, and utterly gripping achievement.
Wasn't sure I was into another non-fiction this week - but from just the prologue, think this should be required reading for jr. high or freshmen in high schoolers - tho' may fall on deaf ears - or they may already be into the "scene" as I know many start as early as middle school -
Seems alcohol drinking is thought of as a natural rite of passage for teenagers - also some parents - from my reading of statistics the ones most likely to abuse are from homes of tee-totalers or excessive drinkings - (know there are always exceptions) -
Alcholic Anonymous has 20 questions,
it appeared to me she answered at least
three of them.
Many believe because they don't come
from an alcoholic family they cannot
be alcholic...there are two kinds
of alcholics. Functional and Physical
Look them up..
This book will not appeal to a lot of people: However, I am married to a recovering alcohlic and the first intallment has already hit home. He went through a lot-he too earned his degree while drinking. He lost terrific jobs. I still think he is capable of depression, but he is not suicidal. Binge drinking in itself is self destructive. A cab ran over his foot once when he was drunk-he was lucky as they put pins in his ankle, as his whole foot was shattered. Oh, not to mention he burnhed down our apartment.
I hope this book is going to be eye-opening for a lot of people, especially after today's installment.
Binge drinkers are not alcoholics. They do not drink everyday and they are not physically addicted to alcohol. As the author said, they may quit altogether at a fairly young age (23 for her!) But the incredibly excessive behavior when they DO drink can lead to incredibly dangerous circumstances.
I went to a women's college with a lot of other white, middle-class young women. I saw lots of binge drinking, myself included. It's an escape from reality, if only for that one Saturday night. The rest of the month you might be working and studying, and then you cut loose to forget about everything that bothers you about yourself and where your life is going. I got into a lot of situations that I now look back on and can't believe how reckless and stupid I was. But once I graduated at 21, it wasn't fun to drink like that anymore. I don't know if all the other partiers quit or not, but I'm pretty sure I got off lucky. I was never hospitalized or arrested, never got date raped, never lost a job. The worse I had was a hangover that lasted for 3 days - it was probably mild alcohol poisoning. I know plently of people who weren't so lucky.
Because binge drinkers can function so much better on a day-to-day basis (compared to alcoholics), I wouldn't be surprised to hear that this is a huge problem that goes largely unrecognized and untreated. After all, these people are living normal lives on the days that they aren't drinking. And it is definitely condoned - people actually encourage you to go cut loose, live out the nightlife, get the full college experience before the 'real world' gets you.
I hope that everyone gives this story a chance, and pass it on to anyone of high school or college age. I agree that this would be an excellent reading choice for teens in schools. I didn't think anything of it when I woke up after a party night and couldn't remember how I got home. That's what college life was all about, right? Maybe if I had read someone else's story, I might have felt differently.
How brave of you to write this. I'm the mother of a male recovering binger,who nearly lost his fantastic job last year. Areal wakeup call. He goes to AA because this has really helped.Like you God took good care of him and nothing terrible happened to him but the loss of innumerable and often valuable things.In UK binge drinking especially amongst "high flying" young men and women is an increasingly big problem.I'm so grateful that my son has begun his 30's not drinking. Daphne
Why can't we as a society look at alternatives other than alcohol for coping with life's challenges? I lost most of my high school and college years to bingeing because I didn't know how to make the transition between childhood and adulthood. I think this book can help adults think--how can we help kids make the transition, rather than encouraging them to drink that time away?
My husband is an alcoholic and grew up with a severely alcoholic father (who came from a family of severe alcoholics...their father, his siblings, cousins, etc). My husband and 2 of his brothers have struggled with this all their lives and seem to have addictive personalities. If it's not alcohol, then it's drugs or tobacco or whatever. My husband controls it pretty well but he does realize his addictive behavior. He gave up drugs and tobacco when we got married 28 yrs ago but has had problems with completely giving up alcohol since it is so prevalent in our society. It's so in-your-face all the time with advertisements, colleagues, golf, sporting events, etc. He loves the Lord Jesus Christ and he loves me but it's been a real struggle for him. On the other hand I'm wondering if my reaction to alcohol is different from his. I will have a glass of wine once or twice a month (rarely in front of him so as not to tempt him) and that is all I want. If I have more it makes me feel worse rather than better. One glass of a good wine makes me feel relaxed for a little while but more than that and I feel achey, feel worse. Not headaches. As a teen I got drunk with friends some but it would make me feel so bad that I couldn't imagine doing that all the time. I've never been able to understand those who drink so much or regularly binge because it made me feel like death and it wasn't worth it. After a couple of wild teen years (which was pretty mild compared to today's teens) I gave up the heavy drinking because I couldn't stand feeling like I was going to die the next day. Can you be allergic to alcohol? Does everyone feel physically that bad after a couple of drinks? If so, why would they continue to pursue it? If not, is there a physical reason why I feel so bad but it seems to make others feel so good? Believe me, I'm thankful it makes me feel bad if it keeps me from overindulging but I was just wondering? Anybody know?
I have the same reaction to alcohol that you do. A glass of wine is OK, but more than that and I feel unbearably bad for the next 24 hours or so. Like the author, I had my first drink as a junior high student and drank occasionally in high school and college, but it just never did much for me. I had friends in college that were heavy drinkers and/or drug users, and from talking to them I do feel that alcohol and drugs effect different people very differently.
I think the line that most hits home for me is that "drinking will always be more socially acceptable than abstaining." I'm now in my thirties and I still can't go to a party or out with friends without some pressure to have a drink. It's like other people refuse to believe I could have a good time without one! Luckily, I've always been somewhat impervious to peer pressure.
Yes, some people are of the idea that you can be allergic to alcohol. As a psych major, a wife of an alcoholic and running Al-Anon and Alateen meetings-I do not totally agree with this author. First of all, I think it is very dangerous to say you were a binge drinker and an abuser of alccohol, but not an alcoholic. They told my best friend that, so she continued drinking. She finally stopped with the help of AA. After 10 years, she fell off the wagon and got into a lot of trouble. If you have or had any problem with alcohol, why take the risk of taking one drink? My husband was what they call a periodic-he could go months without drinking, but when he went out on a binge, watch out. I have not read all of her book, but I feel she does not really get a lot out of life-if this keeps up, I feel she can go back to her old ways. Also, it doedn't always run in families.
I agree with your assesment in questioning alcholism vs. binge drinking. I was begining to wonder if I was odd man out. I think she's trying to rationalize her behavior and that binging is "better" than being an alcoholic. It only takes one bad incident to ruin a lifetime, so what difference does it make if you only drink to excess occasionally? This is one book I may seek out to see where she takes it from the into.
I agree that in a sense the author is splitting hairs in differentiating between binge drinking and alcoholic drinking. Both are excessive and dangerous. I'm probably a good 20 yrs older than the author but I can tell you binge drinking was very much a part of my girls' Catholic HS life and college life too. Freshman yr in college the RA would roll out a liquor cart on friday afternoons and our co-ed dorm went wild.(The drinking age was 18 then). On warm winter days the student association would get some kegs set up outside on the main campus. "Party" was a verb to me and a way of life.I wonder today how many of those "binge" drinkers ended up alcoholic? I'm the only one from my college close friend group that doesn't drink now. I am so thankful I don't drink at all today and I will be wise to my teenager's tricks. In 1976 I sat in on a class where a nursing instructor posed to us that whether or not we'd ever taken a drink, a certain percentage of us were alcoholic.....the problem is you don't know til you take those first drinks how your body will react. Of course I don't remember this scaring any of us at the time. I guess you can say I like this book since it rings so true to my own experience.
This writer is fantastic. Not only is the subject matter important to many of us, and relatable - but it is so well written. I am really enjoying this one - It doesn't feel like a reprimand or an outpouring of sad statistics. I can relate and empathize and care about the main character.
After this last read - I say again - great writing - know I will be getting this one from library - am anxious to know how and when she becomes her own person - and hopefully this book will be of help to many pre-teens, teens and adults as they try to find their way through life with the crutch of alcohol - hope she has an answer to help them find another way -
I will have to finish this book. I agree that the author is splitting hairs with the binging vs. alcoholism, but i still think it is a very good story. One which I am interested in hearing the end of. I hope she reveals what's become of Natalie. I too had a friend like Natalie who infulenced me to do many of the same firsts the authors described today. We lost touch several years ago but last I heard she's still out there partying like when we were kids. I think it's so interesting that some of us are able to get out of that and others are not.