It's a Friday night. you decide to go to your school's party and you are having an amazing time with your friends. As you are singing along to the music, someone comes up to you and hands you a solo cup filled with alcohol and says, "Drink this, you will have so much fun."
But, is it really as great as it seems?
After fifteen minutes, you finish the drink that was given to you. Suddenly the room starts spinning. You find yourself struggling to articulate your thoughts. What's going on?
We often hear phrases like, "Come on, it's a drink nothing bad will happen." But this phrase isn’t only associated with alcohol. it frequently downplays the risks associated with drugs and other substances too. The reality is that it's rarely one drink" or "just one time." These words can mask the real dangers of substances.
Yet, it's not just about the substances themselves, but how our brain and body react to them.
The Prefrontal Cortex is a part of your brain that plays a role in reasoning, impulse control and judgment. However until around the age of 25 your Prefrontal Cortex is still developing. Throughout your teenage years it continues to mature and evolve into the best version of itself. But when alcohol is in the mix, it can’t be the best version of itself. If you drink alcohol, your Prefrontal Cortex is basically on vacation. This can lead to unsafe decisions that you wouldn't typically make. Your brain can trick you into thinking that risky choices are okay at the moment. Choices you make are not just a risk for the night but can have lasting repercussions that affect your future.
What's even worse is that substance abuse can result in physical harm, mistakes, non consensual sexual encounters, and even overdose, which could lead to death. The party might be happening in a protected space, but the world around is unguarded. Walking or driving home can put you at risk for a deadly situation. Taking that one substance might also become a gateway into a world of stronger drugs. It's a slippery slope.
Now when faced with an offer of substances how should you respond?
Have a response prepared: Having something ready to say can help. Something like "I'm good for now" or "I'm done for the night" can be casually assertive.
Suggest Alternatives: Offer to be the designated driver for the night. It provides a responsable, easy way out.
Choose friends wisely: Stick with friends who have similar values, morals and opinions on substances as you. There is definitely a strength in numbers.
Change the subject: Talk about school, the music, or things you have been doing recently. Honestly, you can say anything that will cause a change in focus and take away the pressure.
There are a lot more options, so do what is most comfortable for you. And remember, if you ever feel uncomfortable, it is perfectly fine to just leave the party or the scene.
Of course, this doesn't mean "Don't have fun." Just be mindful. The goal is to enjoy yourself and create lasting memories, not regrets. So next time, when someone offers you substances, take a moment to reconsider. Cheers to not making destructive decisions!