Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sober in the Animal House

A blog in the Well section of the New York Times spoke about a 19-year-old college student, Owen Jennings, at Dartmouth with liver disease. This was not caused by drinking, but as a result, he is unable to drink in order to save his liver. His blog talked about his experience, i.e. "Sober in the Animal House," as he was a pledge at the same fraternity that was the focus of the infamous movie. Here's my favorite quote from the article:

"If I hadn’t been diagnosed with liver disease, I would probably be a part of this insane and inane drinking lifestyle. But I’ve come to realize that while I might feel left out at a party or a bar today, maybe I’m lucky. I will graduate from college without ever having woken up on a bathroom floor, wondering how I got there; without ever having to play hide-and-go-seek with the police."

I find this connection similar to being a sober alcoholic in a crazy environment (however, most sober alcoholics have woken up on bathroom floors and run from police). The part that I love about being sober when around people partying is the fact that I can observe the behaviors I used to engage in, and find a new sense of gratitude about my sobriety. The other part that Jennings

What this also touches on is the pressure to drink in a college environment. Jennings talks about turning down cigarettes and marijuana and feeling no pressure. But when someone offers him a drink, they ask again and again if he wants one. "When I decline alcohol, the response is almost always, 'Why not?'" It seems that drinking, even underage, has become not only a social pressure but the social norm. To deny this is almost criminal. We hear stories every day of 18 and 19 year old college students suffering from alcohol poisoning, abusive drinking, and reckless behavior. The new found freedom can almost be too much. How do we prevent this or encourage safer habits? That, my friends, is the big question.

With more and more college age students entering substance abuse treatment, we as a country need to address this growing problem. The Harvard School of Public Health did a national study that showed 42% of college students had engaged in binge drinking over the past year. That is crazy- and why aren't we providing accurate education on this? I can remember being told not to drink in school, but never any education on what to do when you drink too much. Perhaps improving our education and information around this would actually create some change.

Here's a video on college binge drinking:

And here's a public service ad about binge drinking:

Here's something funny.

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1 comment:

  1. College binge drinking is certainly a problem, especially within the greek system.

    It's amazing how reckless some of these groups get, and when you consider the issues of intoxication AND mass-mind, it's no wonder these things end is disaster sometime.