College Without Alcohol: What It’s like to be Permanently Sober

Yes, you read that title right. I am completely unable to drink alcohol. Truth be told, if I really wanted to, I could ignore everything my doctors have told me and give it a go, but at the end of the day, the risk just isn’t worth it.


I have a condition called vasovagal syncope, which is a fancy way of saying that I pass out sometimes. These fainting spells are brought on by a miscommunication between my brain and my heart, which means any substance that could further interfere with this communication is highly discouraged. When I was diagnosed, my doctors made three things very clear: no caffeine, no alcohol and no drugs (although I’m sure they tell most kids that last part).


For many college students, this sounds like their worst nightmare. No coffee to get me through midday slumps and no alcohol to, well, do whatever people do with alcohol. The lack of caffeine took a while to get used to, but with sufficient naps, I’m usually able to make it through the day. Not drinking alcohol wasn’t really something I was worried about in high school, but college was a whole different ball game.


Before I arrived at college, I was worried about how not drinking alcohol might affect my social life. I’d spent the last 18 years of my life watching movies like Pitch Perfect and listening to my friend’s older sisters talk about wild college parties. I thought making friends was going to be impossible without the aid of partying and alcohol, but I was quickly proven wrong once I got to Pitt.


My first week at college, I don’t think anyone even mentioned alcohol to me. It wasn’t something that people asked about, or cared about, and I was quickly able to make friends without the thought of partying crossing my mind.


None of my friends really care that I don’t drink. In fact, a lot of them don’t like drinking, which makes my life a lot easier. When my friends do go out to parties or hang outs that involve alcohol, I usually stay behind in my dorm and veg out. To be honest, I love having that time to myself. I can study, watch Netflix or try one of the many teas I keep on hand. That being said, most nights I just end up going to bed early. Like I said, no caffeine.


Having a few friends that don’t drink alcohol gives me something to do on nights when I might not want to stay in my dorm (although I’m pretty introverted, so that’s rare). Those nights we watch movies, play games or just eat snacks and talk. Living without alcohol literally could not be easier for me. Every worry I’ve ever had has been erased and replaced with new and exciting ideas on how to spend my weekends.


If you’re like me and you live the substance free life, you can feel like you’re missing out sometimes. Trust me, you’re not missing a thing. We all have our reasons for not drinking, whether they be health, religion or moral based. All of those reasons are more important than any party ever could be.