How to Avoid Alcohol While at College

May 29, 2013 at 4:58 am

Our sincere thanks to WikiHow

So your friends want to party on a Friday night? When they want to have a good time by drinking but it’s not for you, what do you do? This article provides some suggestions to help you avoid the mantra that “alcohol is the only way to have fun” and to keep your own preferences intact, while still having fun and spending time with your friends.



1. While some people prefer to abstain from alcohol completely (owing to religious, personal, and health reasons), many other college students don’t mind an occasional drink to celebrate or unwind socially but are quite content to leave it at one or two drinks now and then, and happily find other ways to enjoy themselves. The problem in college is that there can be pressure to drink heavily and regularly, and then the assumption is that you’ll fall into line too. Indeed, 85 to 95 percent of American college students report drinking alcohol routinely. And the most problems caused on American college campuses result from the consumption of alcohol, with 43 percent of college students drinking in a high-risk manner at some stage during their college years. For a person who abstains, the line of no crossing is very clear but for someone who drinks alcohol occasionally, the challenge can be at its most difficult because the excess attitude and peer pressure can be prevalent. In either case, whether you never drink or drink moderately and occasionally, you’ll need to have your response ready and a firmness of attitude about maintaining your choice.

  • Think through the consequences of drinking alcohol in excess, such as losing control, damaging your reputation, being sick, potentially harming yourself through injury or alcohol poisoning, sleep disturbance, vulnerability to others taking advantage of you (such as date rape), violence, and wasting money. These are all very sound and valid reasons for not drinking or not drinking in excess.


2. Tell your friends that you don’t drink, or that you prefer to drink very little and only occasionally, and stand by your decision. The manner of the delivery of your explanation is important because you don’t want to come across as alienating others by being condescending or judgmental; bear in mind that those who drink alcohol have made a personal decision and should not feel pressured about this choice.[4] All the same, it’s important that you don’t feel pressured about your choice either. Perhaps provide a brief explanation as to your choice but still indicate that you recognize other people want to experiment and “have fun”. For example:

  • “No thanks, I don’t drink (often). I’ve got a health issue that makes it difficult for me to metabolize alcohol and it’s better for me to stick with soda. I’m happy chatting with you guys all the same and if you need a lift home, I’m your person!”
  • No thanks, I don’t drink because of my beliefs. But I’ve got a great mocktail here and the night’s young, so let’s party!”
  • Thanks but I’ve already had my drink for the night and I’m sticking with water from here on. I’ve got a research paper to complete in the morning and it’s already overdue. But I’m staying here till midnight, so let’s dance!
  • Read How to turn down a drink for some more ideas.



3. Avoid taking negative attitudes and verbal criticism about your choice personally. It can be confronting to someone who wants to drink a lot to have someone who isn’t drinking stand up for themselves. In a way, doing this in a drinking culture environment is breaking with conformity and for some people, this feels threatening. Rather than seeing their negative attitude toward you as personal though, try to see their disdain as a reflection of their own conflicted feelings about lacking control over alcohol consumption; their attitude does not mean you’re a lesser person. Simply acknowledge that they’ve made their choice, you’ve made yours, and let them be.

  • Aim to stay with people who respect your decision; if you’re hanging around with people who don’t like it when you don’t join in, then they’re probably not worth hanging around. Real friends will understand and respect your decision and may even come to rely on you as the person who keeps them level-headed about drinking in excess.



4. Stay firm. Once you’ve announced clearly how you deal with alcohol, stick with it. You will lose people’s respect if you give in and suddenly enjoy a binge-drinking session, even “just this once”. It’s a win for peer pressure and a loss for your self-esteem and reputation. Sticking with your principles and beliefs can be hard in the face of peer pressure, but learn to roll with being outside your comfort zone and remain a strong individual. It is perfectly natural to feel discomfort but this is also a sign that you’re standing up for yourself. And whatever you do, don’t lose your cool.



5. Keep partying. Not drinking doesn’t mean you’re not able to enjoy the partying. Binge and excessive drinking is never healthy, whatever your age, but partying is good for your soul. It’s fine to turn up to parties and drink water, soda, juice, mocktails, etc., all evening. The objective of partying is to socialize and you can do that without drinks; avoid feeling that you have to drink simply because it’s what everyone else does (known by researchers as “social modeling”).

  • Enjoy the dance floor. Keep your water intake up and you’ll be able to dance with the best of them all night.
  • Spend time talking with friends and listening to them attentively. Most people love it when someone else pays them good attention!
  • Hold a champagne glass or similar with non-alcoholic cider in it, or a tumbler with dark soda in it. Holding this can help fend off unwanted offers of drinks and saves unnecessary explanations to people you hardly know about your choice.



6.Do things that don’t involve drinking. Parties are fun but there is a whole range of fun activities that don’t involve partying or drinking. A movie night in with friends, playing games together, or seeing a local band perform at a coffee shop, for example, will allow you to socialize in an alcohol-free environment. Not every night with your friends in college needs to involve a bar or a club.

  • Religious groups often have recreation-oriented events that involve no alcohol, or only a modest amount.
  • Read How to have fun without alcohol for more ideas.



  • Drinking water is always the best option, and you could benefit from the added water intake anyway.
  • Do not avoid questions about why you’re not drinking from people you don’t know, as this shows weakness and people will exploit it. Don’t parade it, however.
  • Listen to your body and respect it. If you feel awful after drinking, that’s the best reason not to do it.
  • You don’t have to give up your social life. Remember, you can always have a soda, water, or a virgin drink (like a strawberry daiquiri minus the alcohol).
  • Offer to be a designated driver. That way, you can make sure that your friends get home safely. Stand up for yourself, though; don’t let them abuse you.
  • Drink slowly; if you are drinking beer, just hold the empty beer bottle and pretend to drink out of it.
  • Remember, you don’t have to drink to have a good time.
  • If you want to live on campus, look for “dry halls” that prohibit alcohol in the building.
  • Drink for taste. Don’t drink to get drunk.



  • By all means, try to help a drunk friend in distress, but don’t sermonize about the evils of drink because that’ll definitely put you off side.
  • If you can’t beat them, don’t join them. This is definitely one time when joining in will harm your health and reputation.
  • Beware spiked drinks. This might be a problem if someone feels a sense of unease or disgust about your choice to not drink. If something tastes wrong, do not drink it. And if there are rumors about a place having spiked drinks, avoid it.


Things You’ll Need:

  • Alternative activities
  • Water and soda, etc.