Senior Dan Schleier helped start an Alcoholics Anonymous chapter on Carthage College's "dry" campus in Kenosha, Wis. — something that was missing when he began binge drinking.
"First-time alcohol violations got a warning," Schleier says. "The second time you would get community service. The third time you'd have to take an alcohol awareness class. But AA is different because it changes your whole view of drinking and helps you look at the core things that are problems in your life. Mine was a fear of life. I thought I needed alcohol to be myself, to live life."
Schleier says students can find ways to drink even if the campus is dry. There are always house-parties, friends who are 21 or over, fake IDs or bars that offer drink specials.
"I don't know how many times I've seen people throw up because they drank too much," he says. "I started bingeing freshman year, weekends only. But I could finish off a 1.75 liter bottle of vodka in about three hours."
Schleier was an expert at hiding his habit from family and college authorities. He used to wrap liquor bottles in his dirty laundry to sneak them into the dorm.
In one year he went from a B average to failing three classes. "I'd get drunk almost daily, pass out and not wake up for my classes," he says.
Things got worse when his grandmother and a family friend died. "I began missing more classes, even midterms. Eventually I rarely left my room. ... I finally couldn't stand myself anymore," he says. So he withdrew from classes and went to rehab.
Sober for two years, Schleier often gathers with friends to enjoy a sports game and soda. "Some people actually made fun of me for starting the AA group," he says. "Nobody wants to admit they have a problem when it comes to binge drinking. Drinking can be can OK, but it should be your last priority. We're here for school."
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers