“Then Shauna came along, sat down up against the wall and got sick all over the place too.” The room erupts and these young women, with bright futures ahead of them, lap up these stories, with glee.
One girl, in particular, is the subject of today’s discussion. This same six were hysterical just hours before, when the sky was still dark and the alcohol still had its effect. Mass panic set in when that one girl, Emma, was shoved back into a taxi on her own and driven off by the driver.
Four of these girls were dropped home. But Emma got sick in the car. When the other three left, the driver got out and demanded she pay a fine of €160. She said she would, but was unable to do so at the time. So he put her back in the taxi and drove.
Emma eventually found herself in a Garda Station but failed to remember her own name. She shouted through tears, instead, about how Roscommon won the county final.
The room is laughing again but Emma looks shook. “All I remember,” she says, “is seeing Shauna fall over on the dance floor.”
“She didn’t actually fall,” says another, “she just wanted to lie down.”
It was Clubs and Socs day in DCU. From fashion to sport, these girls are all involved. They are intelligent women who, for some reason, throw themselves, via alcohol, into oblivion. Is it something to do with the freedom of youth and college or a more sinister turn in the way we conduct ourselves as a society?
Forty per cent of women who drink say alcohol is already damaging their health. Alcohol Action Ireland claims that women are more likely than men to be aged under 30 when hospitalised for alcohol-related conditions and the number of under-age, female teenagers hospitalised went up by 29 per cent in the last ten years. So women are more likely to be younger and the number of under-age girls who drink in excess is on the rise.
The girls go through the customary ritual of looking at photos from the night before. Some – they don’t remember taking, others – they wish they hadn’t. One is met with a spectacular round of applause. It is a shot of Emma, reaching out to grab the nearest man she can. She is latched on to his face, he is pulling away from her and she cannot remember a thing.
According to About.com, one in seven 16-24 year-olds have had unprotected sex, after drinking, while one in ten had sex but could not remember it. The dangers are endless: STI’s, crisis pregnancy, going home with the wrong kind of man or not going home at all.
Six girls sit around a cluttered table. They discuss the night before. “I am so embarrassed,” *Emma says, “But at least it was only you guys who saw.”