It’s no secret that college is where the life of the party is at. Day drinking, college sports games, frat/sorority parties, etc. are all huge staples in the college experience, but do they have to be? People like to normalize the binge drinking that happens in college because it’s a form of liberation from dependency. Yes, college is all about becoming more independent, but that doesn’t mean a person needs to binge drink every weekend. Today, we want to touch on the topic of staying sober in college and practicing moderation during college. Most of you may think that it is impossible to do so, but we’re here to tell you that it is possible. 

Why Do College Students Seem To Party More Than Most People?

In order to find the best ways to stay sober in college, we first must determine why college students seem so susceptible to partying and abusing substances. There are a few key reasons that explain to us why this happens:

  • To Try New Things: College is a brand new experience for young adults. This is their first time away from home, parents, and their responsibilities. Not being under their parent’s thumb can feel liberating and freeing to young adults. This can cause many to want to try new things that their families otherwise would not let them try just to see what it’s like (aka. drugs and alcohol). 
  • Peer Pressure: This is a very real issue in college. Because parties are so vast in college, it can seem hard to find people who don’t actually go to parties and drink or do drugs. Because of this, people are constantly surrounded by fellow students who encourage others to drink or do drugs. Peer pressure is no easy thing to overcome and many college students succumb to this. 
  • Stress: Another very common issue that college students deal with is stress. As we mentioned before, college can be a very freeing experience for people, but it can also be a difficult test in self-regulation and self-sufficiency. No longer do students have their parents making sure they’re going to school and doing their assignments. In college, it’s entirely up to the student to attend and pass classes. This can be a stressful experience for some who have been coddled most of their lives and could cause them to seek out ways of relieving stress through substance abuse. Unfortunately, this is all too common in a college setting. 
  • Social Anxiety: Lastly, social anxiety is an issue that many college students deal with. The college experience can be a daunting one for people who struggle with social situations. College is all about getting out of your shell, forming new relationships, and creating new experiences for yourself. People that struggle with extremely social settings can start to develop feelings of insecurity. When feelings of insecurity start to set in, it can cause depression which could lead to a person abusing substances to cope with these feelings. 

All these issues seem quite daunting, don’t they? Well, they should! These are all very real issues and should not be taken lightly. Social anxiety, peer pressure, stress, and cravings for experimentation are extremely common among college students. So, the question is, how do you overcome these obstacles and properly prepare yourself for staying sober in college?

Overcoming The College Obstacles

Yes, these are very real and very difficult issues for young adults to deal with, but there are ways to fight back against them so no SUDs (substance abuse disorders) are developed:

  • Do Research: College isn’t just about making new experiences for yourself, it’s about learning too. But learning doesn’t have to stop after class is over, it can continue afterward. For people that are having thoughts about experimenting with drugs or alcohol, do some research beforehand so that you know what you’re getting yourself into. This can help you learn all the effects you would experience during and after use. If you do enough research, you may not even want to experiment. 
  • Join Clubs/Activities: The great thing about college is there is something for everyone. For those that want to party, there are parties, but for those who don’t necessarily want to party there are tons of clubs to join and activities to get involved in. Colleges are filled with clubs and groups that people can engage in. Outdoor clubs, miscellaneous sports clubs, book clubs, game clubs, pretty much anything you could think of. If you’ve got a hobby or an interest you take a fancy to, there is more than likely a group of people who share the same interests as you. Joining a club can help you stay away from those crowds that would peer pressure you into risque activities that would not benefit you in any way.
  • Practice Self-care: As we mentioned before, stress is a very real issue for college students. Not only can classes and the newfound independence be a lot to cope with, but the social aspect of college can also be overwhelming. When a person starts to develop any sense of insecurity or depression, it can be easy to fall into habits that are not beneficial towards one’s health. Most often, people will start to eat unhealthy foods or engage in substance abuse. These ‘coping mechanisms’ only provide short-term happiness and do not solve issues with long-term happiness. The euphoric effects a person feels when using substances or eating unhealthy foods only provide temporary satisfaction. We strongly believe that staying sober only works if you practice some kind of self-care. Meditation, daily walks, exercise, journaling, etc. are all great examples of self-care that can benefit your overall mental and physical well-being.
  • Find The Right Friends: In college, you’re going to run into new people every day, so there’s no reason to latch on to the toxic people. If you recognize that the people you’re hanging out with are encouraging poor behaviors, then it would be best to look for friendship elsewhere. It may be uncomfortable to stop associating with someone you have developed a relationship with, but it’s best to be open and honest with them and yourself. Find friends that don’t peer pressure you into abusing substances or engaging in any other harmful activities. It could also be beneficial to learn when to say no and where to set boundaries.

The college setting is one that is often associated with drinking and going to parties, but it doesn’t need to be that way. Going into this new environment can be overwhelming for young adults, but if you go into it with the tips that we have laid out for you, you’ll be equipped for staying sober in college. 

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center® holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.