Nobody is perfect. As college students, we constantly hear about how unhealthy college can be.
From the stories of binge drinking and nights out on the town to the dreaded freshmen 15, being healthy in college can be a hassle.
But, booze is easy to drink, cigarettes are easy to smoke and a whole pizza in one sitting, oh boy, is a treat.
In a 2014 study conducted by NDCORE, used to identify statistics of risky behavior specific to NDSU, 507 NDSU students were surveyed about their alcohol and other drug use.
The full study assessed the statistics of what percentage of NDSU students engaged in behaviors that included alcohol consumption, tobacco use and drug use, including marijuana and other drugs.
Despite NDSU being a smoke-free and dry campus, it’s apparent NDSU students continue to find ways around the rules. With local and national programs trying to prevent risky behavior (like the Drunk Driving Prevention, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, Tips From Former Smokers and truth), for many it’s a mystery why students continue to engage in habits that are, to put it simply, bad for them.
In 2002, NDSU professors Rebecca Johnson, Kevin McCaul and William Klein published a paper entitled “Risk Involvement and Risk Perception Among Adolescents and Young Adults.”
The study characterizes risky behaviors as including “unsafe sex, using drugs and alcohol, smoking and reckless driving.” The study recognizes that many believe adolescents and young adults “fail to feel personally vulnerable to the negative outcomes associated with risky behaviors.” However, this is not the case.
Johnson, McCaul and Klein found that of the subjects they studied, “adolescents and young adults understand at least some aspects of risk but engage in the behaviors anyway.”
Let’s just say, we love gluttony here in college.
Overeating: Dylan Bendix
When one looks at Dylan Bendix, very few would think overeater.
Overeating is an aspect of college that is almost a rite of passage. People brag about taking down a rather large Chipotle bowl or eating a whole pizza by themselves.
With whole YouTube channels dedicated to the occasion of overeating in large quantities and other gluttonous occasions, it has engrained itself in our culture.
Bendix sat down with me at Spicy Pie to talk about a story that isn’t too unlike many of ours.
Bendix reports he eats an entire pizza by himself at least once a month.
“It is never my overall goal,” he said.
Eating is a basic human function but overeating is not good for your health.
Many of the health risks associated with binge eating disorder are the same as obesity, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, type II diabetes and gallbladder disease according to the National Eating Disorders Association.
According to the Walden Center for Education and Research, a nonprofit group trying to reduce stigma and increase care of eating disorders, 20 percent of college students report having or having had an eating disorder, with 5-20 percent being female and 1-7 percent being male.
Binge eating, unlike the more commonly known disorders anorexia or bulimia, involves “uncontrollable, excessive eating” that usually is followed with negative feelings, like guilt or shame. Unlike anorexia or bulimia, binge eating does not involve purging food.
While we were eating, Bendix, a psychology major, filled me in on how eating releases those good feeling chemicals in your brain and how eating to that extreme releases pleasure.
After the damage is done and that great feeling is over, what does Bendix feel?
“I feel pretty gross. Pretty full and definitely losing my summer bod.”
When asked about if he plans to end his gluttonous monthly habits he said, “I am not ashamed. I need no diet plan.”
Smoking: Kyle Hardy
We sat on Kyle Hardy’s porch with cigarettes in hand. Smoking is a habit that has had its fair share of publicity. The anti-smoking campaigns of our childhood that were launched to stop our generation from starting this awful habit missed a few people it seems.
As far as tobacco usage goes according to NDCORE , 24.2 percent of NDSU students used tobacco in the past 30 days while 34.7 percent reported using tobacco within the last year. Tobacco use includes smoking, chew or snuff. Hardy is part of these numbers.
Hardy knows smoking is bad for him and can lead to an early death and a multitude of health-related issues. So, why do it?
“I don’t know why I do it,” Hardy said, holding a lit cigarette between his fingers. “It’s relaxing, feels good sometimes.”
Whenever a paper might get too hard to write, Hardy knows how relaxing is vice of choice can be: “I sit down on the porch. I have a moment to think, reflect. It’s kind of a moment of relaxation.”
He mentioned that moment of euphoria may even be an addictive response.
This seems to defy advertisements featuring decrepit people with holes in their throats and black lungs. Why would someone so educated and knowledgeable about the risks make their body endure this?
“There is definitely a youth sense of feeling invincible,” Hardy said. “And honestly, I haven’t felt any side effects from smoking. I go running.”
While this is an easy explanation for now, Hardy knows that “later in our lives, it is going to come knocking at our door.”
Are you addicted to cigarettes?
“Yeah, I am.”
Drinking: Alex Schoenberg
I met Alex Schoenberg at the Memorial Union last Thursday, where he offered to drive me downtown to share a beer with him.
Drinking and college go together like peanut butter and jelly. Coming to college means alcohol to some students.
“That’s kind of the culture of college: do school, have a good time, get drunk every weekend,” he said.
With movies and media, it can be easy to normalize drinking in excess.
This behavior of normalized binge drinking, coupled with peer pressure, is an epidemic that has caused many students to lose their lives over the years.
In the same NDCORE survey, NDSU reported that 82.8 percent of NDSU students consumed alcohol in the past year, with 74.2 percent consuming alcohol in the past 30 days and 50.3 percent engaging in binge drinking (considered five or more rinks in one sitting) in the past two weeks.
“Gluttony is best served with a side of alcoholism,”Schoenberg chuckled,as he opened the door to Wurst Beer Hall.
Schoenberg is not an alcoholic by any means. Telling me, rather, that he is simply an expert on the subject.
We grab a dark beer and began talking about booze. What is Schoenberg’s favorite drink?
“That’s hard to answer. I have favorite types. Red beer is currently a favorite drink.” Red beer, for those who may not know, is beer and Clamato drink mixed together.
“You can never go wrong with a long island ice tea,” he said. He also gave a nod to a dirty martini. What about a shot?
“Well my favorite shot would either be a Chuck Norris or an Alabama Slammer,” he said adding, “I’ve never had a good Alabama Slammer here in Fargo.”
Schoenberg is a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Male fraternities have in the past gotten a bad rep for binge drinking antics.
“At least in my fraternity that is actually a big thing we focus on,” he said, “removing that peer pressure aspect.” Schoenberg describes that a group chanting at an already drunk person to drink more may be fun, but that is how you get into situations where you drink too much.
“Alcohol is literally a poison,” he stated. Schoenberg, along with most people who participate in drinking, know just how terrible it is for your health. So why would one choose to be a part of this?
“I maintain a semblance of self-control.”
Schoenberg knows that he can drink himself to liver damage or a DUI, but he makes sure never to let it get to that point.
“Always make sure it is your choice to drink,” he maintained. Schoenberg told me there have been nights where he has blacked out, but those were his decision.
Are you happy that you drink to excess?
“That’s a difficult question to answer,” he said, noting that it depends on his frequency. “I wouldn’t say I would be happy if I did that every weekend.”
Schoenberg said drinking to get drunk every time you drink isn’t something your body can bounce back from.
Schoenberg did note, however, “I have had a lot of fun, though. When I am 50 years old I will probably have a bit of regret it but I am not going to regret all the fun experiences I had drinking.”
Does Schoenberg see drinking in excess to be in his future?
“Drinking heavily? No. I don’t think I’ll ever stop though.”