While visiting home for the last winter break of my college career, my mom casually asked me if I drank every day. We were driving to pick up dinner, and I remember being really thrown off by her question. I replied that yes, I do have about one glass of wine a day and then on weekends I usually drink more. I could tell by the way her body tensed up after I spoke those words that she was worried about me. My mom was by no means trying to offend me, but for some reason that was my initial reaction. Of course I drink a lot, I said. I’m in college. That’s a thing. People drink a lot when they’re in college.
One of my good friends (we’ll call him John) had a very similar experience while at home over break. He has a pretty high alcohol tolerance so he can drink two drinks at dinner easily and not feel the effect. Unlike my mother, his father contacted his whole family via email rather that confronting John directly. The email said that he was convinced John was an alcoholic because he had three drinks at dinner. John had to find out about this from his mother and he was extremely offended.
Thinking back on it, John and I actually became friends because we were in a film class together and the two of us and our other friend would always grab a drink before our film screenings. Honestly, a lot of my friendships revolve around us getting together and grabbing a drink sporadically. And I enjoy it. It’s such a nice way to unwind after a long day of classes, meetings and whatnot. And no, that’s not the only interaction I have with my friends. And no, that’s not the only way I unwind. Running and yoga are pretty stellar as well, but that doesn’t mean grabbing a drink isn’t nice.
Lately though, I can’t help but wonder if we as college students really do drink too much.
According to a study done in 2009, 1,825 college students die from alcohol related injuries, including drunk driving. And just as disturbing, this same study shows that about 97,000 students annually are sexually assaulted or raped while under the influence of alcohol. Most of us have heard multiple times by now that one in every three women in college are raped, and alcohol often plays a roll in this.
All of this said, I’m very aware that even though there is a huge drinking culture in college, that does mean it extends to all college students. However, I am not involved in a group that would stereotypically guzzle drinks and I very rarely feel unsafe or vulnerable. But I still drink quite a bit, not any more so than my other friends though. It made me realize: if, by definition, I have an unhealthy relationship with drinking, so does practically everyone I socialize with.
The Mayo Clinic's definition of problem drinking versus alcoholism is when “you drink too much at times, causing repeated problems in your life, although you're not completely dependent on alcohol.” I’ve gotta say, that sounds about right. But I’m just one voice, one opinion. I could be totally wrong. But I can’t deny what I’ve seen, what I myself have experienced. Most people I know, by definition, engage in problem drinking. And we as college students usually encourage this. No one wants to be hard on someone for something that we’ve all done, but where do we draw the line?
Lovelies, do you feel like college drinking is as big of a problem as our elders try to persuade us that it is? Does it seem to you that you and your group of friends make relatively good decisions and encourage each other to do so? And do you have any rules that you set for yourself (that you actually follow) to keep yourself safe?