Sobriety on Campus

One of the greatest pressures on kids on campus today is the pressure to drink and take drugs – to party. Getting ‘out of it’ is part and parcel of college life and some might say everyday life too. All cultures have some way of releasing the tensions, relaxing the senses and experiencing alternative perspectives of reality. It would be more productive if our methods of escape were healthier to include meditation, dance, yoga and sport, but campus life is already set in a mould which young adults fine hard to resist. College is also the time when young adults truly experience freedom and coupled with their eternal sense of invincibility, use of drugs and alcohol have become an integrated part of the culture of campus life.

The more mature, the more sensible, the more serious kids might focus more on their studies and less on the background party that accompanies college life, but they too, in all likelihood will celebrate the end of a semester, the end of the year, holidays and week-ends with a small amount of alcohol or the use of soft drugs. In Anthony Wolf’s book entitled “Get Out Of My Life But First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall?”, he describes how children who are more attached and have close relationships with their parents often ‘rebell’ the most pushing against their family norms to individuate. College is the perfect place for this expression.

I recently met a kid who had graduated from a College in California that supports kids who have drug and alcohol addictions and for whom regular college life is not possible because of the inherent culture of drink and drug use. This young man had completely changed his life, undergoing drug rehabilitation, counseling and even ‘surf therapy’. He was completing a law degree when I met him. He had learned new ways to manage his stress, to release the pressure. They included surfing, swimming in the ocean and studying music. I was struck by his raw emotional honesty, his mature perspective and his appreciation for the opportunity to transition from alcoholism to sobriety in a supported college environment.

Recently DePauw University expelled the national sorority Delta Zeta because the group got rid of over twenty members because they were considered overweight and socially inept. The social immaturity, the lack of integrity and the blatant discriminatory values expressed by the sorority reflect a campus culture that increasingly pressures kids to devalue themselves. By comparison, the young man from Sober College was infinitely more interesting, intelligent and hopeful. He would not allow himself to be a pawn in a social system that encouraged negative behavior. Now a mature student, he was a fine example how productive a sober college life can be.