The college years are some of the most popular times to experiment with alcohol and other substances of abuse. However, alcohol is by far the most common one. Drinking at college is often glorified in movies and encouraged through the “party culture” pervasive at many colleges and universities.
Roughly 80% of college students – four out of every five – consume alcohol to some degree. It’s estimated that 50% of those students engage in binge drinking, which involves consuming too much alcohol in too little time.
In order to be considered a “binge,” the drinker’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) must reach or exceed 0.08 grams per 100 grams of blood. This usually happens when a man consumes 5 or more drinks or a woman consumes 4 or more drinks over the course of about 2 hours.
Many young adults admit to drinking alcohol even before they enter college. After graduating high school and moving out on their own, college students want to experience their newfound freedom and independence. The availability of alcohol at sporting events and social activities is often tempting to students.
Approximately 2 out of every 5 college students of all ages (more than 40 percent) reported binge drinking at least once in the 2 weeks prior. – A survey by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
The high-risk period of binge drinking for college students is during the first six weeks of their freshman year. Many of these students fall into peer pressure and begin drinking soon after the first day of classes. Alcohol use is commonly viewed as the “college experience” that students desire. They want to fit in and make new friends, so they keep drinking without thinking about the potential consequences involved.
There are several negative effects of binge drinking and chronic alcoholism such as cardiovascular disorders, neurological disorders, obesity & diabetes, cancer, other accidents etc.
In this post, Peter Langiewicz will talk about how to counter binge drinking and college alcoholism.
8 Tips for Staying Sober in College
Co-authored by Peter Langiewicz
Introduction: Alcoholism, Binge Drinking on College Campuses
Many young people are not prepared for the new lifestyle that faces them when they begin college. Many are on their own for the first time and suddenly find that they are the only ones responsible for their actions and decisions. This is when many people experimenting with partying for the first time because there’s no one around to tell them no. Unfortunately, that can lead to a lifestyle of binge drinking and alcohol addiction if you’re not careful. Here are 8 tips for staying sober in college.
1. Don’t Keep Alcohol Stocked in Dorm, Home
One of the strongest ways to feed an alcohol addiction is by keeping your dorm room or your apartment stocked with booze. Many people fall into the trap of thinking they can have in on hand for weekends or parties. That’s not always the case. This can lead to a problem if a person finds themselves drinking a little each day because it’s readily available. This will eventually intensify with time. In order to put a stop to drinking, keep alcohol out of your house. Some people also just drink because they’re bored.
2. Avoid Parties with a Focus on Drinking
There’s nothing wrong with going out with friends and having a good time. There’s also nothing wrong with drinking if it’s done in a safe and responsible manner. If you’re invited to a party where you know there will be kegs and drinking encouraged, it might be a good idea to avoid it. This is especially true if you’re already struggling with alcohol addiction. Opt instead to see a movie, go out dinner, or have a few friends over for game night. You don’t have to sacrifice your social life to avoid drinking, you just have to make the right choices.
3. Stock Your Home with Sparkling Water
Sometimes, you just want to relax at home and feel a little fancy. If you’re trying to stay sober in college, this can be difficult. There’s a lot of stress and pressure to drink. Instead of giving in, stock your home with other fun beverages. Sparkling water is a great way to treat yourself for a job well done. It’s out of the ordinary, will quench your thirst, and won’t have you sacrificing your sobriety to enjoy a drink. Sparkling water is also a great trick if you’re ever going out to a bar. Enjoy a glass with a lemon or lime twist instead of drinking. It gives you something to sip on so that you won’t be tempted.
4. Don’t Fall Into the “One Won’t Hurt Me” Trap
One of the best tips for staying sober is to know your limits. If you’re someone who can go out and have one drink then do just that. If you’re someone who struggles with addiction then it’s important to step back and survey each situation that involves drinking.
If friends are inviting you out, are the ones who will use peer pressure to get you to join them in drinking? Does one drink turn into 10 when you go out? You can’t fall into the ‘one won’t hurt me mentality’ because that becomes an excuse for drinking.
5. Tell Your Friends About Your Goals
In order to make sure you don’t slip up in college, tell your friends. We choose our friends because they are supportive of our goals. If your goal is to not drink anymore, then let them know. Chances are they will find ways to support you. If they know you’re not drinking, they won’t invite you to the bars. Instead, they will find other activities that involve you in a sober environment. They can also be the friends you lean on when you’re struggling and really want to cave in and have a drink.
6. Find Hobbies, Work
College is a busy time in your life. Chances are that you’ll have a class, a social life, a job, a hobby, and more to split your time between. This is a great way to stay busy and away from drinking. If you have something you really enjoy like a sport or a hobby, you’ll find yourself focusing on that. Drinking hinders our productivity. Whenever you find yourself wanting a drink, instead focus on all of the other things you have going for you. College is hard enough as it is already. Don’t make it harder by trying to tackle homework and studying while intoxicated.
7. Coffee Instead of Drinks
It’s common to run into people you haven’t seen in a while or make new friends in college. When either of those things happens, you’ll commonly hear the other person ask ‘let’s grab drinks.’ That’s because they view it as a social and low-key environment to catch up with someone. Instead of just going along with it, ask them how they feel about a coffee shop instead. It has a more intimate feeling and you don’t have to worry about giving in to the cravings. Many coffee shops even have cool decor and vibes so you won’t even miss not being in a bar.
8. Attend on Campus Events
If you want to have a good time that you know will be free from drinking, attend on-campus events. These are also a great way to meet new people. If you’re struggling with alcohol addiction, you don’t want to put yourself in any sort of situation where drinking is encouraged. This includes parties, bars, sporting events, and more. If you attend an on-campus event, you can be guaranteed that drinking won’t be part of it. Schools typically plan dances, movie nights, art nights, and more. These are also typically free or reduced admission events.
Conclusion: Don’t Put Yourself in a Tough Situation
At the end of the day, you have to look out for yourself. You know what you can and cannot handle. You also know what types of people will help you grow and foster the lifestyle you want to achieve. You never have to sacrifice your happiness for someone else. If your friends don’t listen to you when you tell them no to drinking, it may be time to look elsewhere. Ultimately, don’t think that you have to go through this alone. There are resources on and off campus that can help you. There are also support groups and forums of people dealing with alcohol addiction. By finding a community, you can find support.
It’s fine to drink. But, drink responsibly. Cheers!!!
Author Bio: Peter Langiewicz is the Awareness Advocate at The Recovery Village, an Advanced Recovery Systems Brand. To learn more about alcohol addiction and abuse, please visit The Recovery Village.