By Lonnie Burks, U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot, Pueblo, Colo.October 28, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Oct. 28, 2013) - I love to hang out and have a few drinks with my friends. The camaraderie and bonding that takes place during those fun times is priceless. Sometimes, though, the fun can go a little too far. When it does, not only can it ruin your night (and next day, for sure), it could cost you your life.
I didn't really drink or party in high school. I'm from a small town in Oklahoma where everyone knew each other, so it wasn't like I had to do anything special to fit in. I joined the Army Reserve while I was still in high school. During basic training, we all walked the straight and narrow because it was the right thing to do, plus we had no leave or passes anyway.
My freshmen year of college, however, was very different. My friends lived in the dormitories and I was always there. After all, that's where all the women were. After a decent fall semester, I decided to join a fraternity.
That spring semester was interesting - to say the least - because I was a pledge! The parties, the hazing, the humiliating activities and the alcohol brought us all together. Moderation was the last thing we thought about. I would soon learn its importance, though.
My lesson on moderation came one night during a "sneak," which is when one or two pledges are kidnapped and taken to a secret location. The other pledges are given clues to help find the kidnapped pledges, who have to drink a beer or shot every two minutes until they are found. On this particular night, I happened to be a kidnappee. About 45 minutes passed before I was found, and during that time, there was lots of forced drinking (to fit in), puking and more drinking.
Needless to say, I don't remember the majority of that night. Apparently, after my fellow pledges "rescued" me, I was dropped off at the dorms, where my friends took care of me. They told me I was as white as a sheet and my lips were blue. I was non-responsive, and they were too scared to take me to hospital, so they forced water into my mouth, put me in a cold shower and did their best to keep me conscious all night. They saved my life because I'm certain I had alcohol poisoning.
That experience taught me the importance of moderation. Now I take preventive measures to make sure I'm never in that situation again. If I ever feel like I might be drinking too much at a party, I just sneak away (with the assistance of a designated driver). It's smart to remove yourself from a situation before you lose control. Knowing when to say when might save your life.