Dear Barb—Alcohol and Academics

Dear Barb:

I am a guy in my mid-twenties.  I attend university, plus take a couple of online courses since I failed two courses.  I’m trying to get caught up through AU.  The problem is that I’ve been partying too much and not keeping up at school.  I am in a four-year program, but it’s looking like its going to take me another year to complete.  Some of my friends are in the same situation as I am.  We haven’t told our parents, they think everything is fine.  We have gotten into some heavy drinking and partying and now it seems that we can’t stop.  There are four of us, and once one starts drinking, we all drink until we pass out, or get sick.  I am the one who chose to write you, but I know I’m going to be getting drunk with my friends later and totally ignore that I may have a problem.  Some people are saying this is just a normal part of college/university life, but I’m not so sure.  There are friends who seem to be able to stop before they reach the point of intoxication, but not us.  I’m seriously wondering if I have a problem and if so, what should I do.  I know the university offers services to help with addiction problems, but I’m not convinced I definitely have an addiction problem.  I would appreciate your input or advice.  Thanks, Colton.

Hey Colton:

Good for you for being concerned enough to write in.  Alcohol use and abuse is a serious problem for many college and university students.  From what you wrote in your letter, it seems you may have a problem.  I’m going to assume you and your friend’s participate in binge drinking, which is when you drink a large quantity of alcohol within a short period.  The results can be devastating and lead to reckless behaviour which includes physical and sexual assault, involvement in criminal activity as well as unprotected sexual activity, leading to STD’s or unwanted pregnancy.  Excessive drinking also affects your brain and your ability to process and comprehend events.  You have already said you are not going to complete your program within the normal time frame.  These are all indications that you have a problem.  I’m sure your friends also have an alcohol problem.  There are many treatment facilities available that are geared to young adults and students.  If you were looking for a second opinion, you got it.  My suggestion is make an appointment with a counsellor through your university and find out what services they provide.  It is good that you are recognizing this situation and hopefully you are able to get it under control as soon as possible.  Thanks for your important letter Colton.

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