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Posts Tagged ‘the weekend’

Emily Candio is a friend of mine who goes to University of North Carolina Wilmington. Several weeks into school she asked me the question, “Do you hang out with anyone who doesn’t drink at school?” After thinking for several moments, it crossed my mind that I don’t know or hang out with anyone who isn’t a social drinker. She told me that many of her friends don’t drink, and described her plan to take a “Month of Sobriety” to see what it was like. Little did she know… this experiment would change her life.

 

When exactly did you start drinking?

I had my first drink at thirteen, and binge drank regularly by the time I was a sophomore.  It was an integral part of my social life in high school, and I continued with this trend in my first few months of college.  

Why did you decide to stop drinking?

First off, I was injuring myself regularly. I was carted into my dorm in a wheelchair on the first day of college—my foot was broken in four places from the catastrophic mixture of hard liquor and bike riding. Days after I abandoned my limp, I again tempted my balance with 40 ounces of Miller Highlife and a skateboard, twisting my ankle and landing me back on wheels—and not the recreational kind. What really did it for me was the people I met in school, people who defied all norms by abstaining from college’s beverage of choice. I was intrigued by this lifestyle that was so foreign to me, and wanted to prove to myself that I was capable of living this way as well. Plus, I think I had forgotten my dignity and my flip flops at a few too many frat parties, and wasn’t sure how many free passes I had left to get them back.

What do you find most difficult about abstaining from alcohol while living at college?

Finding things to do. Although I enjoy a good kegger, the problem surfaces when everyone wants to stay until five in the morning, and I wasn’t planning on sleeping there—I didn’t even pack a toothbrush! And finding commonalities with people who no longer know their own names. Some nights I prefer to throw on my footie pajamas, act all indie and write poetry—and not many people jump on this bandwagon come Saturday night.

Are you ever pressured to drink?

Yes. A lot of my friends at school miss “Drunk Emily,” and beg for her to come out for just a night. It never really transcends harmless pleads; I think they just don’t understand my motivations. It never becomes an issue, because I am doing it only for myself.

Since you stopped drinking, has the nature of your relationships changed in any significant ways?

Definitely. I have more one-on-one interactions with people, because many nights consist of one other straggler and me. The relationships built with non-drinkers is much different from the ones I forged in high school, because many of them revolved around smashing our lives and scrambling to piece them back together. Also, I have lost friends. Drain the booze and some friendships were too shallow to remain afloat.  

What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow your path of sobriety?

Don’t! Just kidding. Get a hobby. I think that some people drink to justify that they are good, fun-loving folks. Perhaps they also cannot conceptualize a sufficiently eventful night without it (although I cannot conceive of something more wild than chocolate chip cookies and lights out by nine). But, if, for example, you get really involved in the music scene in town, and center your good time around shows and concerts, alcohol will take the highroad to this superior interest. If possible, it is also good to have an ally. Maybe not even the same person every night, but just another sober soul to level with is important in remaining comfortable.

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