DEAR ABBY: I am a freshman at Michigan State. When I was home for Labor Day, I came across your column. In it was a letter from a student in Anaheim, Calif. I read it and instantly felt as though somebody knew how I felt.
I feel so all alone. I knew that college life entailed kegger parties and plenty of beer, but you have no idea to what extent until you experience it firsthand. Every night at about 9:30, my entire floor gets their cue. They call friends and go to the frat house. I have been asked to join them a number of times, but have no desire to go. I make up lousy excuses every night. My roommate comes back anywhere from 3:30 to 5:30 a.m. Last time she told me she had had around 13 beers!
Abby, getting drunk is not my kind of entertainment. While intoxicated, anything can happen, from a car accident to AIDS. Why are people so stupid? I am 18 years old and allowed to drink while on vacations, at weddings and things like that. Why would I want to kill myself or get in trouble with the law when I'm at college to better my future, not end it?
I thank "Grieving and Alone" for her letter. I have it taped to the front of my journal and read it at least once a day to remind myself what life is all about. Thank you, Abby, and thanks to all the people who still believe that there are some teen-agers who don't drink or do drugs. -- ALCOHOL-FREE IN EAST LANSING, MICH.
DEAR ALCOHOL-FREE: If your grades are as terrific as your decision-making about substance abuse, you'll finish college with top honors. My experts tell me that according to several studies, college students who drink excessively tend to earn poorer grades and are more likely to drop out than nondrinkers.
I hope you'll take heart in the knowledge that no matter how much noise those party animals make, you and others like you are in the majority. While it may seem like "everyone" on campus is partying at keggers, surveys from the Core Institute at Southern Illinois University reveal that on most campuses, fewer than half the students "binge" drink (down five or more drinks on one occasion).
At Michigan State, you can meet other students who share your views on alcohol abuse through Project IMPACT groups at Student Services 101, a social mentoring program for alcohol-free freshmen. Many campuses have similar programs through their student services centers. You might also consider moving to alcohol-free living accommodations to reduce disruptions from intoxicated roommates. That's an option at MSU as well as more and more campuses around the country.
Your roommate who downed 13 drinks in an evening engaged in very high-risk behavior that could have led to injury or even death. I urge you to persuade her to get some assistance through the student health services' "Alcohol and Other Drugs Program" before another campus tragedy occurs.
For referral to other resources to learn more about college alcohol problems and their solution, contact the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information. It's a free government service. The toll-free phone number is 1-800-729-6686, and the Web site is: www.college.health.org.
I am pleased that taping the letter from "Grieving and Alone" in your journal helps you. I hope that someone will post your letter where many others can benefit from your wise and courageous example. Thank you for writing. You've given me one more reason to be optimistic about your generation.