Drinking alcohol or experimenting with drugs has become synonymous with the higher education experience. In fact, 60 percent of college students between the ages 18 and 22 stated that they drank in the past 30 days, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. It’s been almost like a right of passage for decades now and it’s something that Jake White of Party.0 plans to change. We had the chance to catch up with Jake and ask him about his exciting new venture that will help college kids have fun while staying sober.
Hi, Jake! Thank you so much for speaking with me today. Why don’t we start out with a little background on what you are working on? What is Party.0?
Party.0 is a nonprofit that helps college students throw large-scale events without drugs or alcohol. Our signature event is a sober house party for college students. Our events and chapters are completely run by students. We just help them get funding, ideas, and promotion for their sober events.
On the Party.0 Youtube channel, you mentioned that you aren’t in recovery yourself. Can you tell me a little more about how you came to the idea for Party.0?
My uncle struggled with drug and alcohol addiction so I never wanted to start using any substances. That made me feel pretty alone in college because it seemed like all people did on the weekends was get wasted. I was really inspired by Gandhi’s quote – be the change you wish to see in the world. I realized that if I wasn’t willing to create something different to do on the weekends, then I couldn’t expect anyone else to.
We are in the height of an addiction epidemic in the US and prevention is so important. Would you say that more of the sober party attendees are in recovery or are they choosing sobriety as a lifestyle choice?
Our parties are breaking down this notion that you have to drink in college if you want to have fun or fit in. I just really want every student to know they have options… there will always be drinking parties available, but now there’s a sober way to have fun too.
Most of the people at our parties are not in recovery. They are just students who don’t want to start drinking or using drugs. Our pre-launch survey showed us that most students really just want a place to hang out and meet new friends. They don’t really care if there’s alcohol. But since the only thing available is drinking parties, then that’s what most students do. It’s their only option to have a social life on most campuses.
I hope that students in recovery take leadership roles in Party.0 and help us spread the message that you can have fun sober. I hope it becomes a really great part of their college experience. They shouldn’t have to isolate themselves from having fun just because the college culture is so obsessed with drinking.
I know when I was growing up (10+ years ago) being sober was “uncool.” However in the wake of social media and with celebrities speaking out on their choice to be sober do you think we could see an uptick in the popularity of sobriety?
I think that sobriety appeals to a certain type of person. Someone who doesn’t just care about themselves, or the here and now. It appeals to those who want to improve themselves and the world they live in. I think that being sober is becoming more acceptable. It helps to have leaders and celebrities who share their stories of addiction and recovery.
I know that prevention is a big part of Party.0. What is the message that you want kids to walk away with when they attend a sober house party or one of your talks?
Party.0 changes the message from “don’t drink and don’t do drugs” to “party sober.” And that’s really important because if just tell people what NOT to do and give them nothing to do instead, we’re setting them up for failure. Party.0 gives people an action to take, a way to inspire those around them and create new opportunities. Not just a poster or phrase to repeat.
I share this at my talks: Most people start using drugs and alcohol in college because they think it will be easier to make friends. But if they chose to stand out, instead of fit in, they wouldn’t need to make friends. The friends they’re looking for would actually come and find them! By standing out, you show people what you believe in and who you really are. It’s harder than fitting in at first, but then it makes life so much easier and more enjoyable after that.
As someone that isn’t in recovery, how do you connect to those who are, who have maybe experienced addiction at it’s worst? Do you have any advice for people who are struggling to understand their loved one’s addiction?
I think it’s really important to remember that addiction can happen to anyone. It has nothing to do with a fault or imperfection. It can be hard to watch friends and family members struggle with addiction. But I have to remember that every single day is a new challenge. Just because someone relapses or makes a mistake doesn’t mean they’ve stopped fighting for their life.
Can you tell our readers more about the nationwide tour you have planned for February 2017?
We’re going to be traveling around the entire U.S., hosting sober house parties with students in every state. One campus will be chosen in each state and we’ll help them start a chapter of Party.0 from the ground up. It will take a week. We’ll teach them everything; promotion, getting sponsors, finding venues, getting media coverage, and hosting a great event. For the schools that aren’t chosen for our tour, they can still have Party.0 on their campus by sending two students to our National Conference, set for the summer of 2017 (exact date TBD). We’ve already raised $25,000 for the tour but need $10,000 more to make it around the whole country. So we’re launching an IndieGoGo campaign on September 6th. This is also how we’re choosing what schools to go to. The more people who contribute from a certain school, the more likely we’ll be making them our school of choice. Since that will tell us that our chapter will be successful, as we have more support there. The tour will take 3 semesters to finish. The 1st semester we’re doing the middle of the country, the 2nd we’ll do the East side and the 3rd semester will be the West.
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