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Can You Be an Alcoholic in College?

Some college students drink up to four days a week, but rarely do they ever recognize to have an alcohol problem.

by Jack Burris


Photo by Alexandra Luneil

Sometime during my sophomore year of college, I came to the conclusion that I could be an alcoholic. It was after a night out for one of my friends' birthday. I woke up on someone else's couch, wearing nothing but my underwear. I couldn't remember anything from the night before, but this wasn't unfamiliar to me. It happened usually between two to three times a week, and while it makes me cringe to think about it now, back then it felt normal. Other people did it, some of my friends did it, and I did it. There was no shot I was an alcoholic–college is just like that.

As a result of my alcoholism, there were reckless choices. I did the classic table-breaking and roof jumping, but there was a time I almost burnt my house down. Yup, everyone sobered up pretty quickly once the neighbors began to run out to the street. The party was over.

The first person to call me an alcoholic was my uncle. He's a terrible man who prides himself in being sober for almost two weeks. Still, I hate him. And the fact that he said to me, dead serious, "You're just like me when I was in college" freaked me out.

I guess everyone has a wake up call. For me, it was being compared to the worst man I've ever met. And don't get me wrong–I don't hate him for being in recovery or relapsing all the time, I hate him because he never wanted to change, even though he knew he was hurting the people he loved.

I didn't want to be that person.

The reality was that as a college student, giving up alcohol was not a choice. I went out to bars, house parties, and clubs at least twice a week. In the past, not going out just meant drinking with my housemates in our basement, getting even more wasted and doing stupid shit that destroyed our house. We ended up having to pay twice our security deposit because everything was punched, burnt, or destroyed by us.

After doing research, I realized that there wasn't a stand measurement or a Buzzfeed quiz that would tell me I was an alcoholic. Alcoholism is defined less by the amount of drinking you do and more on the dependence you show toward alcohol. I'm embarrassed to admit that I was pretty dependent before I realized I was an alcoholic.

I couldn't drink casually either. If my friend group went out to dinner, I would pound about nine beers and stumble out of the door by the time dinner was over. The more I drank, the less people wanted to be around me.

Aside from my uncle's comparison, there was another moment that made me realize how deep I'd fallen.