We fear a lot of things in college. From exams and 8 a.m.’s to new roommates and getting locked out your dorm, new hurdles constantly rise to trip us up. Attending a party without any intention of drinking requires its own kind of bravery. It takes a special kind of person to hit up a crowded house on Friday night with their inhibitions fully intact.
You’re minding your business at a party, surrounded by both drunk strangers and friends. You feel almost like a fly on the wall. You’re not quite on their level of rowdiness and you probably won’t be, because you’re not drinking. People badger you with questions of “why?” or “why not?” You face accusations of acting like a party pooper or a prude. Fear not! While abstaining from alcohol heightens some anxiety, it provides you with multiple benefits to keep you and your healthy liver comfortable.
You Do You
Going into the party, know why you don’t want to drink and stick to your guns. “I don’t normally get crap about it,” said Indiana University sophomore Mallory Anson. “But if I do I just say I don’t want to and that I’m the designated driver.” You don’t need to volunteer as chauffeur for every party to justify your decision either. “I just don’t find it necessary to run the risk of getting caught underage drinking when I can drink later on in life and be legal,” said IU freshman Jennifer Huntoon. Think of it this way: While your friends pay their drinking fines, you can save up for spring break.
In college, the availability and acceptance of alcohol suddenly hits at an all-time high. Its effects and the consequences of its presence begin to stack up like your to-do list before finals week. “One in four students report academic consequences (missing class or doing poorly),” said Jackie Daniels, director of OASIS at IU. OASIS provides counseling, programming assistance and the latest information on drug and alcohol use. Alcohol can also lead to violence and aggression that could have been avoided. “While it’s never the fault of the person drinking if they are assaulted, we do know that alcohol is the #1 college ‘date rape drug,’ and can create environments where it’s easy to victimize another student,” said Daniels.
Don’t Drink the Kool Aid
From the first day of kindergarten all the way through freshman orientation, we listen to adults spiel on about the dangers of peer pressure. Maybe the easier solution involves not associating with people who resort to that in the first place. “If everyone else is already drinking, then they are really not going to be paying attention to what you’re doing,” said Anson. “It gives me a chance to relax as someone who isn’t usually outgoing. People don’t pay attention to whether or not you’re drinking, they really don’t.” Look for people who like your company—whether or not you share swigs from a bottle of peach taaka. Honestly, even if you do drink normally and your friends try to make you drink peach taaka, you should find new friends.
Reap the Benefits
Taking on the roll of the eternally sober friend does offer untapped perks? For one, you will never get too friendly with the inside of your toilet bowl. You’ll also save money on aspirin by avoiding the hangover in the first place. “Not feeling gross in the morning is definitely one of the best perks,” said Anson. You’ll evade the excise police passing out drinking tickets. And you’ll stay on your RA’s good side simply for not making their job more difficult on a Friday night. “I’ve had a lot of people tell me ‘Good for you,’ for having fun and not needing to be inebriated, that feels good,” said Anson.