Vox Clamantis: Moderation Matters

by Jean Hamlin | 2/2/15 9:31am

When it comes to avoiding alcohol abuse, moderation matters more than the choice between “hard alcohol” and beer and wine. Keystone Light may not get a student drunk as quickly as Grey Goose, but it causes its share of problems on campus.

When I was a student, I was always trying to distill my observations into guidelines. Here are a few.

Beware of drinking games. If you’re at Dartmouth, you probably have a competitive streak. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you have to go override your better judgment about healthy limits in order to “win."

Be careful about affiliation. Avoid joining an organization that serves alcohol to minors, because you have goals and dreams. Being part of an organization that breaks the law could lead to disciplinary action that gets in the way of getting where you want to go.

Ladies and gents, it is not enough to watch your drink. Avoid drinking at all in locations where you reasonably suspect people are trying to drugyou, or where you have heard of people being druggedin the past. That said, never blame the victim. It’s terrible that students even have cause to worry about this.

When you do drink, do so with people who want to talk with you, people who care about what you have to say. Drink with people who invite you into their homes and who introduce you to their friends. Drink in moderation. Drink with people who practice moderation too, so you don’t have to hold anyone’s hair up when they’re vomiting. Drink with people who brew their own beer or distill their own wine. Drink with people who don’t care whether you drink or not. Drink with friends.

Sometimes, don’t drink. Don’t drink because you want to stand there in support of a friend in recovery, a friend with a medical reason against it or a friend who abstains for cultural reasons. Don’t drink because you’re driving. Don’t drink because you don’t feel like drinking that day.

Alcohol can be consumed in a healthy way at Dartmouth and beyond. Choosing to drink in moderation, in a safe location and with people whom you trust matters more than the type of alcohol.

Jean Hamlin '07 Med '12