Becoming an alcoholic

You’ve spent a lot of your time drinking, or recovering from drinking.

You’ve found that drinking–or being sick from drinking–often interfered with your family life, job, or school.

You’ve gotten into dangerous situations while drinking or after drinking.

I’ve just described some symptoms of alcohol abuse, the precursor to alcoholism. I’ve also just described normal life for some college students.

I used to work with teenagers in a juvenile detention center. These kids had severe behavioral problems, so much so that they required one of us counselors for every two of them. Fights broke out on a near-daily basis–verbal abuse on an hourly basis. It was the most difficult job I’ve ever had. I had to quit after nine months.

Only the teenagers who committed the worst crimes were allowed in that center. The one-time offenders who only got caught for drinking or stealing–but otherwise had a clean record–weren’t permitted.

It turns out that if you put the one-time offenders in the same center with the criminal offenders, the one-timers are way more likely to become criminals themselves.

This reality, that you become the people you spend time with, should give you pause, particularly where it involves alcohol.

[Mark Zuckerberg talked about this in a recent interview on Freakonomics Radio.]

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