The Acceptance of College Alcoholism

From movies to your freshman friends, you are going to find that drinking is a common topic among college students. It’s something you will hear about from orientation to graduation day. This person blacked out, this one threw up, we completely lost that person at the bar, and so on. The thing is, all the stories are about abuse.

There is much easier access to alcohol than most would have while living at home. Yes, there are those parents who allow the child to go into the liquor cabinet and take something every once in a while, or even are willing to purchase something cheap and low alcohol for a party, but college is another beast. Your roommate has a bottle of vodka tucked into their sock drawer, the guy whose house you sometimes go to always has another handle of tequila, and to top it all off you have a fake that can get you into all the bars. Everywhere you turn, someone has something. And you are completely expected to share, participate, and go shot for shot with someone who has twice the alcohol tolerance.

I once met two girls who told me all about their freshman year and the drinking habits that formed. Honestly, they should probably be dead. From what I gathered, they would go out at least four nights a week, drink until they were completely blacked out, and kind of just hope to make it home. They always did, but a lot of others probably didn’t. These stories were told while laughing and they were both proud to tell me, as if surviving this was a badge of honor and not something that should be concerning.

When we graduate and have to infiltrate the adult world, drinking like this is not acceptable. If you show up to work and tell them that you went out binge drinking over the weekend, threw up at the bar, and had to be carried home, they’re going to hand you a card for AA. An adult going out four nights a week and blacking out is cause for serious concern and they probably wouldn’t have a job anymore. But college students? Eh, they aren’t dead yet.

While we choose to drink, this isn’t on us. I’m not giving you an excuse for the behaviors that result from drinking, just the drinking. As a society, college is built up as this “experience” in which drinking plays a large role. Those who just go to study are criticized for not taking advantage of college while they have the chance, even if they are the type of people who joined six clubs and get all A’s. What is college supposed to be besides a four year-long drunk fest?

As that freshman who refused to drink, I remember feeling left out. This has nothing to do with my group of friends in that they were all willing to work with me and were happy to find sober events to occupy our time. It was more that every piece of media told me I was doing it wrong. For those of you who haven’t been beaten down over time (or didn’t realize that you genuinely loved it), I’m impressed.

There is also the fact that no one takes the extent of alcoholism among college students seriously. I made a joke the other day on Twitter with the whole “______ majors be like” thing that was going around that said:

At first, it was meant to be funny in that I was referencing the famous authors who were notable alcoholics, which is a lot of them. But the more I thought about it, the more annoyed I got. This tweet doesn’t just apply to creative writing majors, it applies to college students as a whole. How do you deal with the unrelenting work and expectations? Alcohol. What can you do to not have to think about life anymore? Alcohol. What’s going to make all this seem easier for just one night? Alcohol.

Alcohol is not the answer, it’s not a solution, it’s nothing but a depressant that makes you feel gross the next day. We need something better to get us through these years. Someone has to take a step back, think through the issue, and offer us something that can help.

We aren’t meant to feel like shit for four or so years just to get a degree.