If you’re going to college you’re leaving family and the structure of that family behind, probably for the first time. For most people, that means sudden freedom to experiment with having that freedom, including drinking, using drugs, and taking party in parties and party culture. That’s so much the case that many colleges are known as party colleges.
In addition, many students increasingly lean on drugs and alcohol to cope with stress and loneliness during college years – which can be significantly bad in some fields. For example, 91.3% of medical students consume alcohol and marijuana regularly, which is 11% higher than the general population, and 34.8% of those consume 5 or more alcoholic drinks in one sitting, multiple times per week.
That substance abuse is increasingly common in colleges and it’s bad for mental health, for your study, and for your ability to live a healthy life. If you’re trying to drink less in college, these tips will help.
Drugs and alcohol are often coping mechanisms for stress or a way to help you unwind. This means that avoiding drinking means finding a healthier way to do so. For example, if you drink to relieve stress, you can look for stress relief activities such as meditation, yoga, mindfulness practices, or something that allows you to relax like taking a bath, going for a swim, or going to a sauna. If you need to unwind after study or after class, it’s important to take time to find other ways to do that. For example, if you’re too wound up, taking time to exercise and let off steam may help instead. Alternatively, a mindful or meditative practice like yoga or tai chi may help you to calm down.
Healthy coping mechanisms mean getting a dopamine release, stress relief, or getting to have fun experience that you’re looking for but without substances. That can mean using music, bathing, exercising, a good meal, time out to listen to a podcast, or anything else that helps you achieve those results.
Sorority and fraternity groups can provide a significant amount of social support and even emotional support. At the same time, they can require a significant amount of drinking and party lifestyle, which can harm your college experience and your health. Here, it’s important to step back and assess the focus of your sorority and fraternity groups – ensuring that they focus on healthy lifestyle, study, and extracurricular activities other than partying and drinking.
Having that support from your social group will also help you to drink less. That’s especially true compared to a fraternity or sorority group that will encourage you to drink or will use peer pressure to get you to drink more. If you’re concerned about your drinking, your social group shouldn’t make the problem worse.
Having a healthy social life is an important part of navigating life and feeling good about yourself. Unfortunately, heavy study and class schedules can make that difficult. As a result, many students isolate themselves while studying and parties and drinking end up being the only social interaction you get. This can be extremely unhealthy also because it promotes being less able to study and therefore having to dump more of your time into it – worsening the cycle.
Here, it’s important to ensure you make time for a good social life. That can mean studying with other people. It can also mean engaging in extra-curricular activities like sports, dancing, walking, or playing games with your peers. Giving yourself room to experience other people in non-party settings means you can engage in social activities and have fun with others without adding alcohol. And, that can help you to feel better and to get the social contact you need without exposing yourself to more drinking.
Good social activities may look like:
Having a good baseline of social activities and social life will ensure you don’t need to go party, which will cut down on drinking.
Good habits can be difficult to build, especially if you’re not used to doing so. College is often the first time many of us get to build those habits on our own instead of with the guidance or even control of our parents. With no one to wake you up in the morning, make sure you go to school on time, or ensure that you eat a healthy meal experimenting with dropping those things and having the freedom to do what you want is the norm. Doing so is also an important part of figuring out what you want for yourself and what makes you happy. However, you still need healthy habits and a healthy lifestyle to make it through college.
That should mean:
Good habits also mean engaging in self-care like saying no, associating with people who help you to be who you want to be, and taking care of your living space.
Going to college or university is a tumultuous time and it can be extremely difficult to cope on your own. It’s important to keep in mind that you don’t have to. You can always reach out and ask for help, often from a significant number of social and mental help programs right on campus. For example, most colleges have a psychologist on staff and you can talk to them and ask for help. Many also offer free courses on stress management, lifestyle management, and other ways to improve how you experience life at college. If you’re experiencing stress or struggling with mental health to the point where you have to drink to cope, there is help and you should reach out and ask for it.
A small amount of alcohol isn’t bad for you. However, if you find yourself drinking more than a few days a week and drinking more than a few servings of alcohol in each sitting, it probably isn’t healthy. If you can’t cut down on your own, reach out and ask for help – either with lifestyle or with your mental health.
Asana Recovery is located in Orange County, California. and offers detox, residential, and outpatient addiction treatment services in our modern and comfortable addiction treatment facilities. Please contact us today to speak with one of our experienced addiction treatment team if you have any questions about our programs.