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In university, I partied at least three times a week. After every major test or assignment, my friends and I would hit the clubs or organise house parties, where we would then drink to our hearts' delight! Three, four or seven drinks … whatever it took to help me unwind. Didn't I deserve to relax after the sleepless nights of mugging?

And hey, what's a party without drinking?

It's my life


My friends respected my ability to drink, and this gave me the reputation of being a "tough girl". I accepted a range of mild to bad hangovers as the price to pay for a crazy night of drinking and partying. My closest friends were those who drank with me, shot after shot. Well actually, anyone who bought me a drink was a friend. Friends who told me to stop drinking were just wet blankets. It's my life – I'll do whatever I like.

Drinking puts me at risk


 

One night in June during the school holidays, I and my friends were at a random bar in Clarke Quay, looking to get drunk. Feeling particularly playful, we challenged each other to drink tequila shots. After my tenth shot, I was so giddy I couldn't even see straight. Thinking that a splash or two of water on my face would help bring me back, I groggily stood up and walked to the toilet outside the bar.

On my way to the toilet I passed by a man at the corridor, who seemed to be staring at me intently. This wasn't new to me, so I just ignored him. However, he walked in front and blocked my path, asking me "Hey girl, looking for some company?" Annoyed, I pushed him away. Suddenly, he grabbed me by the shoulders, and started calling me horrible names. I wanted to run away, but I was too drunk to fight back. He dragged me away from the corridor towards the road, where a car was parked.

Noticing a passerby, I started screaming to get his attention. But the man just told the passerby, "She's drunk; I'm taking her home!" The passerby looked at me, hair untidy, dress unkempt, kicking and screaming, and backed off. I felt so helpless, but it was true: I looked drunk, sounded drunk, and truth be told, was pretty drunk. At that very moment I truly began to regret drinking so much. I was now paying the price for letting myself go.

And then I heard a flurry of voices. "Let her go!" It was my guy friends, who were looking out for me. My friends ran over to me and pushed the man away, shouting at him to get lost. Realising he was outnumbered, the man scurried into his car and drove off. I was so thankful and grateful, I started to cry.

Stay sober, stay in control


That was my turning point. I knew I had to make a change in my drinking habits. I continued partying but I made sure I was always aware of my booze intake. I had friends around me who drank a lot more than me and I wanted to be conscious enough to tell them when they've had one too many. And now, I am much more receptive to those few friends who tell me when I am drinking too much. I've taken control of my drinking, and at the same time taken control of my life as well.

​(This post is contributed by our reader, Ariel (not her real name), who wanted to share her story about her bout with drinking. We're glad she's among a growing number who are choosing to know when to stop.)