If you or someone you know is seeking help for substance use, call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357).
The music moved through my body as I danced more freely than ever before—I was possessed by the vodka crans and Pink Whitney shots I had consumed before the frat party at the bar. I walked around the party, talking to each fraternity member, introducing myself. When my friends noticed my unusually outgoing persona, they pulled me aside and said we had to leave immediately. I giggled like a madwoman and walked like my legs had been replaced by noodles the entire way home. Once there, I plopped down on the couch in our apartment and asked, “Why did we have to leave so suddenly?” Then I ran to the bathroom and immediately answered my own question.
That was the only time I have ever thrown up from drinking alcohol in college. I woke up with crippling anxiety and a yearning for water. I also had to DoorDash a bagel from a coffee shop which is 700 feet from my apartment. Then I spent the rest of the day in bed feeling like complete shit.
I am not a binge drinker; I know my limits—that night was an accident. However, anytime I go out and consume alcohol, it hurts my stomach. I don’t like how it makes me feel, and I wake up feeling anxious and unmotivated. Knowing that alcohol makes me feel this way, I prefer to stay sober. Going out for dinner without a drink lets me eat mindfully and intuitively. My best friends and I love to have apartment dance parties on random weeknights. These dance parties are sober wholesome fun! However, if I were to say I wanted to go to a frat completely sober I would hear loud gasps. If I can dance like no one is watching on a random Tuesday night, you bet I can dance my heart out completely sober in a frat basement, especially when everyone else is drunk and not paying attention to me.
Here is my dilemma: people love having people to drink with, and at 21-years-old when the college culture revolves around going out and drinking, it’s really hard to tell people I don’t want to drink. Recently, I was at dinner with a new group of friends. I was talking to the guy sitting next to me, who was also 21, when he confidently told me he didn’t drink. When I asked him why, he said he didn’t like it. I respected how confidently and comfortably he told me that.
I don’t need to go cold turkey on alcohol, but I want to say ‘no’ confidently when I don’t want a drink. How do I find this confidence? I need to embrace it. If my friends don’t accept me for not wanting to drink because I don’t like how it makes me feel, I may need to re-evaluate who my friends are. If someone is judgemental of my choices, then maybe it’s an insecurity they have with themselves, and it has nothing to do with me. Lastly, a big part of the “going out” in college is to meet guys. How will I meet guys if I don’t want to go to a bar every weekend? I can meet guys from going to activities that make me feel my best, such as a workout class, hiking, a class at school, etc. Do what makes you happy and feel your best, and don’t worry about what others think. I know how hard it is not to want to drink with the social pressure of college, but it’s your life and your choices, and you don’t have to do anything that doesn’t make you feel your absolute best!