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Ways to Have Fun and Stay Sober in College

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Starting college can be both thrilling and terrifying. For many students, it’s your first time living independently. You’ll have to learn new life skills, like balancing your schedule to make sure you don’t fall behind in any of your classes. The pressure can feel intense, and sometimes overwhelming.

Movies and television shows often depict college as a nonstop party where students binge drink, experiment with drugs and engage in other risky behavior. Unfortunately, this stereotype has a basis in reality. College students often succumb to the temptation of drinking or drug use, both as a coping mechanism and a way to fit in socially. The National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism reported some alarming statistics regarding drinking in college:

  • About one in four college students reported academic consequences from drinking.
  • About 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries.
  • About 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.

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How Can You Stay Sober in College?

Avoiding drugs and alcohol in college may seem difficult, but it’s well within your reach to stay sober while you enjoy spending time with your friends. You can even go to parties without misusing substances.

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Usually, if someone offers you drugs or a drink, a polite, “No thanks,” will be enough to extricate yourself from the situation. However, here are other ways you can healthily avoid misusing substances in college.

  • Volunteer as the designated driver. Not only will you be helping your friends arrive home safely, it’s also a perfect excuse not to drink or use drugs.
  • Bring your own non-alcoholic beverage to parties. If you already have something in your hand, other party attendees may be less likely to offer you alcohol or drugs.
  • Don’t be a wallflower. Instead of sitting or wandering around aimlessly, find people to talk to or dance with. When people see you engaging in an activity, they might decide not to pressure you into taking drugs or drinking alcohol.
  • Explore the city. Your college ID gives you discounted or even free access to lots of cultural events like museums, theaters, sports matchups and more. Instead of drinking and partying in your spare time, learn something new and spark your creativity.

These are only a few suggestions of activities you can participate in to stay sober in college. College can be one of the best times of your life as you have fun with like-minded friends who understand why you don’t want to misuse drugs or alcohol.

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If you or someone you know is dealing with a substance use disorder, a full recovery is within reach. Contact Guardian Recovery anytime, 24/7, for a no-obligation conversation with one of our admissions specialists.


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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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