Ask Katie: How Much is Too Much College Drinking?

This piece is part of the regular Ask Katie* advice column series at The Fix.

for The Fix

I am a sophomore at a large university. I am mostly happy–-my grades are good, I’m enjoying my classes (after a bit of a rough patch last year), and I have great friends. Drinking culture is big here–-social life revolves around fraternities and sororities and even though I am not in one, many of my friends are. Everyone drinks all the time. Many people blackout with regularity. I’m not that bad, but unless I have a big test the next day, I pretty much drink every night. I casually alluded to the amount people at school drink when I was home over winter break with my somewhat conservative/religious parents. They immediately began to worry that my friends and I are all basically alcoholics. Truthfully, I worry about our drinking from time to time but the odds of me and everyone I know all being alcoholics seem slim. Do you think there is a different standard for determining if young adults/college students have a problem with drugs or alcohol than there is for the rest of the adult population?

From, On Campus

When I found myself in rehab less than a year after graduating college, I doubt a single college friend of mine was surprised. My inability to control my drinking was obvious to pretty much anyone I encountered. The only thing that might have been surprising is that more of my friends didn’t find themselves in the same situation. We all drank heavily. For many of us, this was simply an escalation of our high school antics but for others, it was fairly new territory. It wasn’t a hard habit to fall into–-events revolving around drinking were built into campus life. Over a decade after graduating, I can still remember which drinking events fell on which days of the week. (continued)

*I am not an expert or a mental health or medical professional; I’m a sober person offering my experiences and advice about sobriety. Every other Tuesday I will answer one recovery-related question posed by Fix readers, based on my experience. Send your general advice questions to me at with the subject “Ask Katie.” 

By submitting a question to The Fix, you grant The Fix permission to publish it on its site. All questions will remain anonymous. Due to the large number of questions received, The Fix cannot guarantee a response. But they do check back frequently!

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Katie MacBride is a freelance journalist, essayist, and co-founder/associate editor of Anxy magazine. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, The Daily Beast, Vice, Playboy, and Buzzfeed, among other publications. Follow her on Twitter: @msmacb

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