Friday, October 09, 2009

Binge Drinking

I remember the situation pretty well. School had not even been in session for a week. It was my freshman year, I had been on campus for two weeks. I had arrived a week early for Cross Country walk-on tryouts. Having made the cut, I was invited to a pre-season party being thrown by some of the upper classmen. Usually the XC and T&F teams would throw a big party before the season started, declare a "dry season" for the team, and then throw another huge party at the end of the season. This was the big one before everything started in earnest.

I didn't drink in high school. None of my friends did, so I didn't either. Never really gave it much thought, but here, in college ... I was an adult, so it was fine. Nevermind that I had ZERO tolerance, and had no idea how much I could be effected by even a little alcohol. I had met new people, they were cool, the booze was flowing ... so I was drinking. Playing quarters with an o-lineman from the football team was my first mistake, doesn't matter if I was technically winning or not. After about an hour of that, I moved onto another drinking game. It was fun, people were laughing ... good times really. That is until on a bet I had to drink an entire pitcher of beer. I did it, but promptly filled it back up with vomit. That was it ... I was escorted outside of the house, placed against the fence and spent ... what people would tell me the following day ... several hours throwing up all over myself. Eventually they placed me in a chair on the front lawn, where people walked by and laughed at the sight.

I woke up hours later inside the house, on the couch with someone standing guard over me ... to see if I wouldn't die in the night. Some of them were worried about not being able to compete because they would likely all get expelled. When it looked like the worst had passed, and I was going to live ... they kicked me out of the house and made me take the bus home to the dorms. Yes, I was still covered in vomit. Hours later, they were at my door informing me that today was Sunday and it was time for our usual 2 hour run. I managed to survive it ... sort of. Every 15 minutes they'd stop for water. I'd take a sip, throw it all up, and off we'd go run some more. This pattern went on at least another 8 times.

I "earned" a lot of respect from them that day. Not shirking my responsibilities and taking it all like a man and finishing the run, even though I probably had barely escaped with my life the evening prior. People thought that was cool. They said I had a brass set of cahones. Now I realize it was just sheer stupidity. I can tell you however that, from that point forward (all throughout college) I couldn't even SMELL beer without getting nauseous. Nowadays I can tolerate a drink now and again, but I can't drink more than one usually without my stomach going sour on me. It's probably a small price to pay for my life.

So why mention this at all? Because I wish that a program like this had been in place when I was an undergrad.
While studies report that more than 80 percent of college students drink alcohol, the latest statistics reveal that nearly half indulge in binge-drinking, generally defined as downing five or more drinks in about two hours for men and four or more drinks for women.
Those numbers are woefully high, and down right scary. Hopefully such programs will cut down on those numbers and make college a safer and more enjoyable experience for everyone.

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