Socializing In College Without Substances

collegePop culture sets up the college years as a time to party.

Movies about binge drinking and experimental drug use show graduating high school students  “the cool way” to spend the next four years of their lives.

Animal House was one of the first Hollywood movies to follow a group of college kids through nightly partying and the subsequent drama. In the movie, dorm and fraternity life are dominated by alcohol and each day seems to revolve around what social event is happening that night.

The Hangover, although not about the time spent in college, shows extreme partying to the point of blacking out and having to piece back together the events of a night out. The film was a pop culture phenomenon, celebrated as hilarious and almost commonplace. The group of grown male friends drink excessively and using drugs, and yet the life-altering consequences are laughed off as ingenious comedy writing.

The movie Project X is the most recent display of out-of-control partying. Three high school seniors throw a birthday party in an effort to gain popularity. The idea is to record the entire night to capture people having an amazing time. Before even entering college, these kids are planning a night of drinking and drugging to excess. What happens in the following years of college when partying is already out of control in high school?

Several other movies are not directly about partying, showing instead a more well-rounded college experience, but even in those cases, alcohol is still a part of the picture.

In a culture that so openly accepts drinking to excess before the legal drinking age, how does anyone expect to socialize in college without substances? How can you enter your college years as a sober person and leave the same way?

Remember that you are not alone. No matter what size college you attend, there will be other students who are in the same position. Drinking and using drugs is a personal choice everyone must make. If you have chosen never to drink or use, or you have done the hard work to get clean and sober, make an effort to find like-minded people. Peer pressure can work both ways: friends can encourage you to use or they can encourage you not to relapse.

There are also countless clubs and organizations at every college and university devoted to everything imaginable. What do you enjoy doing? What topics are you passionate about, and what causes do you stand for? Do you play a sport? Are you interested in volunteering? Finding something you love to do will introduce you to people who view life the same way you do.

Involvement in a group that focuses on more than partying is a great start. Also, your school’s 12-Step community is worth seeking. There you will find other sober college students, and make friends with people who want to socialize without substances.

Creating goals for your education and beyond can help guide you when temptations arise. Play the tape forward and really think about what will happen if you choose tonight’s party over going to see a movie with a sober peer.

Will the choice to party lead you a step closer to your goals? Where will drinking or using any drug realistically take you?

ByJoey Holub, LSAA, Admissions, Associate Director
Joey Holub was the first resident and graduate of Shadow Mountain, and today he leads the day-to-day issues of the program built around himself. Now over 5 1/2 years sober, he can relate firsthand to the feelings every addict faces during recovery. The day Joey decided to commit to his own recovery is the most important day in his life. Joey now lives in Denver is very active in the recovery community, working closely with others to assist them in their own drug and alcohol addiction recovery.


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