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I'm a college student and I don't drink.

Published: December 19, 2013
Dear TeenHealthFX,

 

I'm a college student and I don't drink. I tried some sips of wine when I was younger, but I don't like alcohol and I never plan on drinking it again in my life. The problem is that because of this decision I can't make any friends. Literally every one of my peers is either already drinking, or can't wait until they turn 21 and will be able to. They criticize me for not wanting to drink, and I have no social life whatsoever. I can't escape the obnoxious behavior of everyone around me, and a student at my school already died from alcohol poisoning after a frat party. I would love to be able to meet some people who don't care about my drinking preferences. My parents even insult me for not being a "normal" college student, and my sister-in-law said she wants to take me to a bar for my 21st birthday (to show me why drinking is so cool). I feel like the world revolves around alcohol. Are there any people who don't act this way? How can I make some friends who like me for me?

Signed: I'm a college student and I don't drink.

Dear I'm a college student and I don't drink.,

 

The decision you have made for yourself is commendable and it is a shame other people do not respect your choice especially since drinking on college campuses is more pervasive and destructive than many people realize. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), reports that alcohol consumption is linked to at least 1,400 student deaths and 500,000 unintentional injuries annually. Alcohol consumption by college students is associated with drinking and driving, diminished academic performance, and medical and legal problems. Given all these statistics you would think your parents and sister in law would support your decision.

 

There are many college students and young adults who handle drinking in a responsible way or choose to abstain altogether. Because of these alarming statistics many colleges and universities have committed more time and money to events that are non alcohol related or where responsible drinking is encouraged. A contributing editor to the web site eHow came up with an excellent 7 step approach for college students who share your concerns.

 

1.      Become aware of campus-sponsored events that explicitly promote alcohol-free fun. Such events are likely listed on the school calendar, advertised on campus or promoted by Student Affairs.

 

2.   Find out about other fun events taking place on campus that have are alcohol-free. Examples include film screenings, block parties, theater and dance performances, recreational sports, organized outdoor activities, concerts and guest speaker presentations.

3.      Involve yourself with student organizations that promote a certain cause or altruistic aim. When you stay busy on and off campus with volunteering you can also make friends with whom you share substantive interests.

4.      Try to frequent bars and concert venues that allow patrons under the age of 21. Go to bars with your friends where there is live music or some other attraction besides alcohol so that you can still have fun while not drinking.

5.      Host parties or events where, even if you don't make them explicitly alcohol-free, you don’t provide alcohol. Make fun alcohol-free beverages instead, like punch or frozen drinks. You might choose to allow friends to bring alcoholic drinks, but by providing non-alcoholic beverages you can keep the pressure to drink very low.

6.      Don't be afraid to go to a party where there will be alcohol and not drink. It can be a good idea, though, to go with another friend who doesn't want to drink or as a designated driver so that it is easy for you to refuse alcohol.

7.      Remain confident and comfortable with your own decisions. You don't have to change your entire college campus to have fun yourself without alcohol. As long as you are comfortable with the social events you choose to participate in, you can have alcohol-free fun.

 

Also be aware that many colleges offer alcohol free dorms for students who are non-drinkers or students who are in recovery.

There are other people at your college who have similar view as you do about alcohol. It may take some investigative work to find them but it will be worth it. Making decisions that go against the crowd can be difficult and sometimes take a lot of character. But as William Shakespeare once said “To thine own self be true.”

 

 

 

Signed: TeenHealthFX

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