Ben Yeager started getting drunk before he entered high school. He found himself to be more social that way and enjoyed the attention. Before graduating high school he was blacking out frequently and had already crashed his Mom’s new Denali while driving drunk. As if he wasn’t going hard enough, he saw the next step of college as a “great place to party.”
Some weeks Ben would black out every day of the week. Alcohol had taken a hold of him, but his college friends found it funny and enjoyed telling him about the things he did the night before; arrests, fights, fines, vandalism, getting kicked out of parties and bars. They made his life sound glamorous.
Threatened to be expelled, he went to rehab. But once he got back onto campus he drank every day. One night, with a third of his blood being alcohol, he broke into a family’s home and wandered through two little children’s bedrooms. The father heard and called the police. Ben woke up being hand-cuffed in their basement, covered in his own blood and vomit. That’s when he knew that he had to stop.
After getting clean he says… “The isolation can be difficult; not drinking when you’re young can feel as if you’re perpetually on the outside looking in. In social situations, people express discomfort when my non-drinking comes up; they’re sorry for me. I always have to explain gently that I’m fine — that this is just my life — and why their pity or incredulity (“You’re never drinking again?”) is unwarranted. This is an especially delicate subject, I’ve discovered, on first dates.”
“Studies say that between 35 and 50 percent of undergraduates have blacked out at least once. Fifty-nine percent of those women but only 25 percent of those men said that that one blackout experience scared them enough to change their drinking habits.”
“That means 75 percent of guys were not put off. At college, I sometimes drove wasted friends to the very emergency room that treated me. One had punched through a window for a laugh. Another had broken his wrist in a fight, in the car while I was driving. Those incidents, now often told as funny stories, were the inevitable outcome of the games we played, the quantity of alcohol we consumed and the speed with which we drank it. Many of these friends now consider themselves social drinkers, but many still black out every weekend. The line between drinking like a normal 20-something and drinking like an alcoholic can be murky.”
Do you see people ignoring unsafe levels of drinking?