Alcoholics welcome

Students will exhibit signs of alcoholism, but that’s college, right?

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Some students can’t make it through a week without getting drunk.

It’s no secret that North Dakota State is a party school. People come here knowing that grimey house parties and “darties” are going to be a part of their social life. Getting wasted if as normal as posting a game-day Instagram picture. It’s part of making friends, and good luck coming to NDSU and making friends without encountering the drinking culture.

The question is whether or not many NDSU students can pass as normal college kids, when, in reality, they’re just high-functioning alcoholics. This may sound ridiculous, but that’s only because we go to a school where the culture rewards bad drinking behavior and normalizes practices like vomiting and blacking out.

18-year-olds getting wasted in their dorm room is pretty standard here. It’s sometimes hard to remember that 21 is the legal drinking age, especially when house parties are so prevalent and everyone has a friend of age to get them whatever they need. 

The problem isn’t college students trying to have fun. Drinking is a part of most college cultures and is obviously a pretty good time. What’s problematic is when that line between drinking for fun and drinking because you feel like you have to is crossed. 

For most lucky students, they only drink on the weekends, but even then, it’s not a drink or two, it’s a twelve-pack or an entire bottle of Smirnoff. People don’t go out with their friends to get buzzed, they go out with their friends with the expectation that they won’t remember the night they’re going to have tomorrow.

I’ve witnessed a girl puke for five solid minutes, only to get back up and do three shots with her friends. On game days, it’s not uncommon to see someone passed out on the lawns coming back from the Fargodome or to find a stray patch of vomit every few hundred feet.

The problem isn’t college students trying to have fun. Drinking is a part of most college cultures and is obviously a pretty good time. What’s problematic is when that line between drinking for fun and drinking because you feel like you have to is crossed. 

Suddenly, you go from drinking on Saturdays to drinking on Fridays, to attending Ladies’ Night on Thursday, and Mug Night on Wednesdays, and at that point, why not just keep the party going seven nights a week? The problem is when you feel like you have to drink to get through the day or to have a good time with your friends.

When you can’t spend time with your buddies without being wasted, or all you take about was the last party you went to and the one you’re going to this weekend, pretty soon you realize your whole social life is dependent on being drunk. Maybe we can institutionalize this type of drinking now and just call it “college culture,” but what about when we graduate and can’t get wasted five nights a week with friends?

Or worse, what if we still do get drunk five nights a week because we’re not just enjoying NDSU culture, but we’re full-blown alcoholics.

For a better understanding, look at the signs Medical News Today gives to help recognize alcoholism: people blacking out and not remembering large chunks of time, losing interest in hobbies or work and needing more alcohol to feel the effects.

Honestly, I had to read these signs twice because they didn’t sound like alcoholism, they didn’t even sound like intense drinking, they just sounded like the typical and standard behavior you expect people to have when they’re drinking at NDSU.

The Mayo Clinic says an alcoholic is any man who has four or more drinks a day and 14 or more drinks in a week, and any woman who has three or more drinks a day and seven or more drinks in a week. All that takes for a woman is a 12-pack in a week and they would classify as an alcoholic. I know some students who can put away a 12-pack in a single evening.

I’m not writing this to ruin anyone’s fun. In fact, quite the opposite. I’m trying to point out that what we label as “fun” is actually a disease and what we should give more credit to, we insist is lame or anti-social. 

Going out with friends and not wanting to drink, or blackout or drink so much you could push through a brick wall and feel nothing, shouldn’t be seen as antisocial behavior. At the same time, we shouldn’t promote behavior that could lead people to the hospital simply because it’s what makes NDSU the party school it is.

Having a dozen or so drinks a week just isn’t sustainable. When students inevitably leave NDSU and have 8:00 a.m.’s they can’t skip, called jobs, they won’t be able to go out every night. In fact, when adults do go out drinking every night like students who are in college, we recommend they get help.

A person’s social life shouldn’t revolve around being drunk. That just means that a person needs to be less like themselves to spend time with their friends, and then why are they spending time with those people in the first place?

People destroy their bodies and their futures in the pursuit of some unattainable vision of the perfect college experience. It’s the reason so many people leave and feel this was the best time of their lives. They definitely can’t skip all their responsibilities for a “darty” on a Wednesday anymore.

However, it’s my hope that most students who leave NDSU do so with a degree and a handful of awesome and enriching experiences, but that no one has to leave with a drinking problem.

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