DR. WALLACE: I am a high school senior and will be attending Valparaiso University next year. I'm not considered to be a "goodie, goodie," but I'm totally against anything that will alter my health; that includes using drugs or alcohol. My best friend, who is in her first year at Indiana University, has told me that many of the IU students engage in something called binge drinking. She knows that it is a game where students consume a lot of beer. Will you please inform me about binge drinking? Trust me, if binge drinking is a part of the social scene at VU, I won't be participating. — Nameless, Cedar Lake, Ind.
NAMELESS: Binge drinkers don't drink alone. Usually, they are with a group of friends who egg one another on, urging the timid to drink up amid whistles and cheers. Peer pressure is a potent force. Most binge drinkers don't even enjoy the taste of the alcohol they're chugging. This is group stupidity in action.
Binge drinking is a dangerous activity both because of the unhealthy quantity of alcohol the binge drinkers consume quickly and because, when they're drunk, they often take foolish risks, encouraged by their fellow drinkers.
While binge drinking is a matter of serious concern for college administrators, the great majority of students do not participate in this activity. According to a University of California study, many binge drinkers are first-year students who are away from home for the very first time. They drink to excess in order to make friends and prove their independence.
DON'T EXPECT TOO MUCH FROM OLD FRIEND
DR. WALLACE: My closest friend and I are both 14, and could be called "nerds," and we were proud of it. But lately, she has been hanging around with the "cool" girls at school and has been acting real phony. I know the cool group has accepted her because they all have pet names for each other and they now call her "Peaches."
When I asked her why she was doing this, she said she didn't know what I was talking about. She still talks to me at night, but she totally ignores me at school. To make matters worse, she told me she doesn't want to go roller-skating with me anymore on Friday nights because she wants to meet boys. Do you think it is possible I can make her come to her senses? — Kelly, Atlanta, Ga.
KELLY: Few things feel more disappointing than a best friend's desertion, but that appears to be what's happening to you. She's changing. I doubt that she'll "come to her senses" any time soon.
Your best bet is to stop counting on her companionship — especially during the school day — the way you used to. Look for other friends with whom you have more in common. By all means, keep talking to her in the evenings. Your friendship may survive this confusing time, but for now, don't expect too much from your old pal.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. E-mail him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.