What’s the harm in one more drink?

by Jake Byczkowski

When asked to sum up my program in a single sentence, a friend of mine posed the following question: “What’s the harm in one more drink?” This question has been on my mind ever since. A part of me feels it’s a question that should never be asked, that it’s something we should inherently know the answer to. The question itself implies an underlying “why not?!” sort of tone. Yet if we forget tone, this is a question that could truly help many people, when asked at the appropriate time.

Throughout my college experience, I noticed that many students (myself included) could somehow always pin point the exact drink that put them “over the edge.” After a night of partying, it wasn’t uncommon to hear someone mutter “why did we take those jaeger bombs last night?” or “Those shots were a bad idea.” The harm in one more drink is obviously relative to the amount of drinks already consumed. But I’ve also learned that because of the ritualism that has become college drinking, there seems to always be that one more drink. It’s a hazy and dangerous ritual, a ritual that is terrifyingly ingrained into the drinking culture on college campuses.

I can pin point the exact drink that led to one of the most life changing decisions I’ve ever made. It was a shot of Captain Morgan. I was 22. Because of this drink, and the many others I had that night, combined with a rather hostile environment, I’d end my night in handcuffs facing a charge of first-degree felony arson; a hefty charge for burning a futon mattress. Regardless, I remember thinking about that shot of captain morgan, I remember thinking that I didn’t need it, and maybe I would have avoided the whole situation had I not taken it. I can’t say that if I hadn’t taken that shot that I wouldn’t have involved myself with that fire, or that this ritual wouldn’t have caught up with me in another way. But if I had just paused for a moment and truly thought about the possible harm in every drink I was consuming, maybe I could have incorporated some clarity into this hazy ritual. Clarity that would lead to better decisions, less regret and reduced harm.


In his talk, Solo Cup Culture: Minimizing the Risks of an Alcohol-Soaked Campus Climate, Jake gets students thinking about the culture of alcohol that many rely heavily upon in college. He seeks to utilize the millions of intelligent minds on college campuses to create a new culture, where responsible use of alcohol and safety are priorities.

Continue this conversation with Jake on Twitter, @JakeTalks2Much

Then visit campuspeak.com/jake to learn more.