Ask Andrew W.K.: My Religious Family Thinks I Drink Too Much

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Photo: Dan Watkins
[Editor's note: Every week New York City's own Andrew W.K. takes your life questions, and sets you safely down the right path to a solution, a purpose or -- no surprise here -- a party. Need his help? Just ask: AskAWK@villagevoice.com]

Dear Andrew,

My entire family are teetotaling religious types who never tasted a drop of liquor or tried a single drug. They even find dancing offensive. Well, I drink, and just last week they had an intervention on my behalf. Now they've got me thinking I may have a problem. I've never missed a day of work due to drinking. I pay my bills and keep up with all my responsibilities. But I do drink at least a six pack or more every day. Do I drink too much, or can I just do what I like since I've never run into any problems with it?

- Poppin' a Top

See also: All of Andrew W.K.'s advice columns

Dear Poppin' a Top,

You can always do what you like, even if you do run into problems with it. The question is, what do you really want to do?

When it comes to personal pleasure, whether harmful to you or not, it should ultimately be up to you to decide how you live your life. As you've seen with your family, there are lots of people who get off on telling other people what to do. It's not enough for them to think for themselves -- they want to think for other people too. It's probably because it helps them feel more secure in their choices if they can inflict their ideas and standards on others. We see this not just with family and friends, but also in institutions, workplace dynamics, and most of all, the government. Some people just really think they know better, and they think they're helping us when they try to outlaw or control certain stuff -- everything from large sodas to what kind of sex people can have.

You must be able to think and choose for yourself. But with that freedom comes responsibility, and it's up to you to be honest with yourself and not get lost in a tangled web of self-deception. Be brutal with the deepest truths lying somewhere in the back of your mind, and dive deep into your soul. Ask yourself the questions you don't really want ask, like...

Why do you drink?

Are you just trying to rebel?

I can imagine being raised by a very strict family would cause most people to strike out and go against the family grain, as a form of vengeance and to find their own identity. But was that just reactionary and is it no longer necessary? Did you start pursuing interests like drinking just to upset them? Also, what do you really like about drinking? If it's an escape, what are you trying to escape from? And has it really been working?

When the method of escape becomes its own form of prison, we must find another way out. What would happen if you just stopped drinking for a while, just to change it up? Habitual behavior of any kind -- even "good" behavior -- can eventually have a soul crushing effect. Don't become a slave to your own routine, even when you enjoy it. Changing things up adds contrast and variety to life and helps the days from blending into a blur of repetitive boredom. You get more perspective and appreciation for how big life is when you pull it apart and switch it around. Next time you feel like starting a regular beer session, what if you just try something else instead? Like bourbon! Or riding a bike, cleaning your room, making a painting, anything different.

Your family's concern for you is real. You should be glad they care about you. And their concern has at least given you a chance to think for yourself about what you really want. But only you can decide how you really want to live. You have the power to think and act for yourself, even when it's not easy. The power to change is inside of you, not outside you or in other people or in anything else.

It's also not in the beer. Even if you turn outward for help, whether to a system of therapy, an individual, or a substance, it is ultimately only putting you in touch with the powers you already have inside yourself.

There are lots of people who can function highly despite incredibly intense behavior and potentially damaging choices. What can be too much for one person can be totally manageable for another. The main point is simple: If drinking beer is fun for you, keep it fun and don't let it become the opposite. There are an infinite number of ways to party, but never let any of those ways kill the party. Know your limits, and sometimes push past them to set new ones. But always respect them and the power of your self and what you love. Life itself is the ultimate party -- and if you love getting wasted, just don't let it waste your chance to party.

Your friend,
Andrew W.K.

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5 comments
canary
canary

I never drank when I was pregnant with my son, so I gave him a good liver and brain. Now he drinks all the time and it is damaging his liver and brain. This is so sad to me and I cry about it once in awhile. I don't agree with Andrew's advice because a "party" for one person could be a cause of sadness for another. This is not a party to me...this is pain for me. I do realize he has choice in the matter, but his choice causes me pain. What should I do? Start taking drugs and drinking so I don't have to think about his partying?

bourneyr
bourneyr

Do what you want! But be safe. Andrew promotes the party but we all need to remember that a party is whatever we make it! Like a comment below, "you don't need substances to have fun!" 


Definitely change it up a bit as 6 a day does sound an awful lot!

ziddersroofurry
ziddersroofurry

 While I agree with Andrew here I do know that a six pack a day is considered binge drinking. 

"The average size of a can of beer is 440ml and is about 5% abv. and it contains 2.2 units of alcohol. Your talking about roughly 13 units per day, that's about 90 units a week. If they're drinking smaller cans with weaker beer the number of units is obviously less. 
The recommended safe limit of alcohol for a man is 21 units a week, so you can work that out for yourself, a man's tollerance to alcohol is greater than a woman's because first of all their livers break down the alcohol more efficiently, and generally they have greater body mass. 
It's too difficult to calculate cocktails without knowing the contents, but the average strength wine is 12%abv, a 750 ml bottle contains nine units of alcohol, one bottle three times a week therefore contains 27 units of alcohol. 
The recomeneded safe level for women is 14 units a week, so as you can see, in both cases they are drinking over the safe limits and risking their health. 
http://www.patient.co.uk/health/Recommended-Safe-Limits-of-Alcohol.htm
http://www.patient.co.uk/health/Alcohol-and-Sensible-Drinking.htm "(Taken from Ron over at Yahoo answers)

AndyBee
AndyBee

All the concerts and local band shows in my town include beer and other alcoholic beverages. They really advertise drinking to the point where people(me included) have forgot that it is a drug. We have been conditioned to think it's just beer, like a soda pop. However it contains chemicals that are not good for us. Some people can go their entire lives drinking and smoking and nothing bad happens. Some people drink very little and get in a lot of trouble. Having an ice cold beer on a hot day or on the dance floor with your favorite band playing is a pleasurable fun experience.

There is a line in the sand, don't cross it. Be responsible, always plan ahead, never drive to a bar or get into a car with others that have been drinking. Take a cab, bus or walk.  Andrew W.K. has reprogrammed the word "Party." You don't need substances to have fun. 

AGoodBook
AGoodBook

I think Andrew nailed it on the head here, They had an intervention out of concern and naivety, they don't drink so they naturally fear it a little more and you having a few beers each night to them must be scary!


Also Andrew's right about changing your life a little and trying different things, i quit drinking for a month and half once on nothing more than a whim. Different perspectives are party!


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