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Overton: Drinking is not the only option

BY JON OVERTON | FEBRUARY 18, 2013 5:00 AM

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They race around the Pedestrian Mall, giving one another piggyback rides, they stumble around, trip and fall in deafening fits of laughter, and look like they’re having the time of their lives. Drunk people can be hilarious — to a point.

A common idea among University of Iowa students is that in Iowa City, “There’s no fun alternative to drinking,” as UI sophomore Brooklynn DeVan told The Daily Iowan.

We’ve heard this explanation before. It’s an excuse often made to justify drug abuse, heavy drinking, and crime, especially in rural areas and suburbs.

And this bit of conventional wisdom is a pile of crap.

Iowa City has art shows, readings, musicals, bands at the Mill, the Yacht Club, Gabe’s, and the Blue Moose, and movies at the Bjiou almost every day. The Campus Activities Board also has events at least twice a week.

Downtown Iowa City has several specialty shops, and Coral Ridge Mall is a few miles away with a variety of retail stores, an ice-skating rink, and movie theaters. A $1.50 round trip bus fare isn’t asking much (it’s free for UI students Thursday and Friday nights), and it takes a few minutes to get there.

A lot is going on in the Iowa City area. Want proof? Consult one of many downtown podiums plastered with hundreds of fliers or the bulletin boards all over university buildings.

Let’s be honest. There’s more to heavy drinking than a lack of activities.

Life can suck. It can be extremely stressful, especially in young adulthood. Sometimes, you want to forget who you are. Sometimes you need an escape. It’s fine until it becomes destructive. Whether it’s habitual drunkenness or addiction to video games, the risk of dependency becomes extremely serious with profound consequences for the rest of one’s life.

We must stop excusing our and others’ behavior by saying: “There’s nothing else to do for fun.” We have to ask why we desperately want to get away from it all and directly confront what we’re trying to avoid.

Drunks are hilarious until they pass out, until they’re arrested, and until they become alcoholics. It won’t happen to all of them, maybe not even most of them, but that doesn’t excuse it.


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