On Students' Drinking

I was saddened to read in the New York Times of Sunday, February 14, 1988, that a Princeton student recently almost died from an alcohol-induced coma. At the same time, it was heartening to read about the initial steps taken by both the eating club at which he was drinking and the university administration. having had the privilege of treating as patients many talented and gifted individuals who had over the years engaged in self-destructive and even reckless use of alcohol, it is clear that a critical period for getting help is that stage of life called "college." The profound physiologic sensitivity of some individuals to alcohol comes with a set of remarkable talents and capabilities. My guess is that this genetic linkage is the evolutionary raison d'etre for the survival of this susceptibility. A program of guided self-inquiry, designed to highlight alternatives to self-defeating behavior and to expand on the formidable gifts of the individuals in question can be an important step in the growth and development that are the finest accompaniments of a university education.

Harold J. Bursztajn, M.D. '72
Cambridge, Mass