Some college students engage in excessive drinking and drug use, but not everyone is doing it. As a matter of fact, more students are attempting to stay away from drugs and alcohol entirely. They see their peers engage in risky behavior and suffer consequences such as poor grades, relationship conflicts and personal injury. Not to mention, some young adults can’t stop the abuse and become addicted.
Avoiding drug and alcohol takes strength and focus, but it can be done. Here are some ways to avoid substance abuse in college.
Know Your Boundaries
The first step is to define your boundaries. In other words, what are you comfortable doing?
You may have no problem going to parties with your friends but aren’t interested in drinking. (If that’s the case, however, realize that you can still get into legal trouble if you’re under the age of 21.)
Perhaps you aren’t comfortable going to parties, bars or nightclubs and don’t care to be a designated driver. That’s perfectly acceptable. Define your personal boundaries so that you’re confident in your decisions.
Make Your Plans Clear
Let your friends know your plans. Your hope is that they don’t bother you to drink or use drugs, but realistically, there will be some peer pressure in the beginning. Over time, this should resolve on its own when your friends realize that you are serious about staying sober.
Also, don’t feel a need to lie about your choice not to drink or use drugs. Own it and feel proud of it. Pretending like there’s vodka in your juice or that you already “had a few” before the party will only complicate your choice to be sober.
Choose Your Friends Wisely
Most likely, you’re going to have some friends in college that enjoy partying. But, you should be mindful of who you choose to spend the majority of your time with. If your friends are always abusing drugs and alcohol, the chances of you eventually doing the same are higher. As college progresses, find friends that have similar interests as you and don’t need drugs and alcohol to have fun.
Do What You Love
Speaking of having fun, know what types of hobbies and activities make you happy. If you stick with them, you won’t be as tempted to use drugs and alcohol. Ideas include sober parties, movies, dancing, creative activities, going out for dinner or coffee and attending music festivals. If you’re having trouble finding things to do, join a club or sport on campus.
By managing your stress levels, you’re doing yourself a favor mentally, physically and emotionally. Stress can be a major contributor to substance abuse, especially in the college years. If you feel the stress building, talk to your parents, friends or a counselor at school. Find ways to reduce stress on your own, too, such as meditation or yoga.
Staying sober in college doesn’t have to be boring! You’re investing time and money into it – why would you want to spend your days high on drugs? Enjoy the experience of meeting new friends, studying new subjects, working in the community and taking part in campus activities. You will thank yourself and be an amazing role model for others!