How UCLA Saved Me From Addiction

By Chris Collins

I was about to twist off the screw top of my nightly bottle of Trader Joe’s Maria Jola Sangria when my phone buzzed to life with an email notification.

“That’s unusual,” I thought, “no one ever reaches out to me, especially not at 9:30 on a weeknight.” So, I paused last week’s episode of Euphoria, opened my phone, and there it was: “Alcohol Harm Reduction Online Course Requirement.”

The deadline for this mandatory UCLA course was December 17, but they were kind enough to keep sending me messages all the way into next year. How generous. Really, it surprised me. The other six emails they sent before all seemed empty and feckless, but how could I read “REQUIREMENT” in this title and ignore it?

As I filled my glass to the brim with a plastic bottle of
Trader Joe’s cheapest and only sangria, it became clear that UCLA cared. How could you send seven emails and not? More than learn about how alcohol was harming me, I wanted to show my heartfelt appreciation for the care and understanding my institution was showing me. Hell, if I wanted to learn about alcohol I would’ve gone to UC Davis and studied enology. Or joined a frat.

Now, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little sad that there’d be no more emails afterwards, but it was time I did my part. After all, I was a part of that “caring community at UCLA.” It was only right that I met them in the middle to “create a safe, healthy and more inclusive community environment.” What more could I ask of them? 8 emails? That’s just greedy.

It took roughly a hundred and thirty three clicks and twenty seven minutes, but I eventually finished the bottle. All the knowledge I’d gained about alcohol made me giddy to put it to practical use, so, I opened a second one. Did you know that a 5 oz. glass of wine is equivalent to 1.5 oz. of liquor? Fascinating. It mentioned nothing about sangria which, if I’m being truthful, didn’t feel entirely inclusive… but one step at a time.

The stimulant euphoria of the first bottle was turning into
a depressant dysphoria with the second, but it made me realize something. I was poisoning myself. I could feel it week by week, warming up to it, seeing it over and over again all around me. It almost became cool. How could I let it? How could I watch Euphoria each week? How could I do that to myself? It glorifies drugs. Thank god I had to take this course or I might’ve mindlessly kept going week by week, watching episode after episode and thinking that drugs were cool. Who am I? Some kind of progressive nut?

Another week and I might’ve tried weed. We all know what that does to people.

No, now I was safe, healthy and included. Dodged that bullet. Imagine getting addicted to something in college. Not on UCLA’s careful watch.

Before I could pass out, I opened the PDF and read the words, “This certifies that Christopher Collins completed the following course: AlcoholEdu for College.” I could do no wrong.

Now it’s your turn. If you’re a blueblooded Bruin, go to… or just check your spam folder! I’m sure it’s in there somewhere. And if you can’t find 7 emails, well, you just might be an alcoholic.

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