When I graduated from high school, I had hardly tasted alcohol. The most I had ever done was take small sips from my father's beer as a child, simply because I was curious; I found the flavor revolting and wondered how anyone could care for such a drink. I think the taboo my parents placed upon alcohol might have been to my ultimate detriment, however. My father should have encouraged me to try some of his beer instead of having me take my surreptitious sips. When I was 20, I started drinking. The bad part was that, instead of doing it with my parents, I was doing it with two older alcoholics. I would go over to their apartment building and we would all get blasted together. For me, this meant skipping dinner in order to get the full hit and value of the beer I would later be consuming. I would usually have around 6 beers when I was with them, which was a lot for me; by the end of the night, I was incapacitated. Because I was still underage, I was unable to purchase my own alcohol, and was restricted to these weekly binge sessions with my two friends. Then I left for a study abroad to France. I could purchase all the alcohol I wanted at grocery stores or sit in town and polish off a delicious glass of red wine. Some of the other students organized parties on the weekends, during which we would sit around and play various drinking games. However, this is not to say that I took unruly advantage of my new-found privileges. My drinking was generally in line, and I thought nothing of it. For one thing, alcohol was abundant - we used to drink several glasses of wine with the program director over dinner. It was part of my environment, it surrounded me, and I never attached any greater importance to it than the fact that it was there. When I returned to the states, however, I began to notice the way alcohol had crept into my life. I had opened the door and it had come to join me. It had become a clinging presence in my life. In the states, alcohol was no longer a part of my environment. I live in a residence hall by myself, and most of my friends are non-drinkers. I started to drink alone more than with others, and I started to drink almost every day, largely to deal with the high level of stress I felt from classes. When I get back from school, exhausted and burn-out, I've begun to need that one (sometimes two) drinks to make everything alright. I fear that I am starting down the road of alcohol dependency - a very long and dangerous road indeed - and I worry for my health. I feel guilty about my drinking.