26 Years Old, And 7 Years Sober

26 Years Old, And 7 Years Sober

3:41pm Sep 04, 2015
Ben Yeager is pictured with his mother, Anne Yeager, at his 2014 graduation from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. (Courtesy of Ben Yeager)

How do you know that you are drinking too much? That you might be an alcoholic? If you are in high school or college, where alcohol can flow like water, it can be hard to tell.

Four in five college students drink alcohol, and about half of those drinkers consume by binge drinking. For most, the drinking curbs with age, which is why it may seem so easy to claim heavy drinking is just a phase for the young.

By the time Ben Yeager realized that his “phase” was really a habit, it was almost too late. A drinker since high school, he had grown accustomed to blacking out and not remembering anything from the night before. He would flip back through Facebook to see a different person – a person who regularly lost his keys and cellphone, started fights, passed out in random places and even once broke into a stranger’s home.

At 26 years old and seven years sober now, Yeager is living as an open book. He says he doesn’t worry about being the guy who orders a Coke instead of a beer.

As many students head back to school, The Washington Post published an essay in which he reflects on his decline and recovery. Here & Now‘s Lisa Mullins speaks with Yeager about that essay and his experiences.


  • Ben Yeager, New York-based freelance writer. He recently completed a fellowship at Outside magazine and is a 2014 graduate of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. He tweets @BenBiggsYeager.
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