How to Avoid Alcohol While at College

Three Methods:Avoiding drinkingFinding Fun Alternatives to DrinkingFinding Environments with Less Alcohol

So your friends are going to party on a Friday night? What do you do when they want to have a good time by drinking but it's not for you? While some college students don't mind an occasional drink to celebrate or unwind socially, some others prefer to abstain from alcohol completely owing to religious, personal, and health reasons. For someone who drinks occasionally, the challenge can be at its most difficult because the excess attitude and desire to fit in can be prevalent. However, not drinking doesn’t mean you can’t join the party: you can avoid drinking while with your friends, find alternatives to drinking or hang out in alcohol-free environments and still have the time of your life.

Method 1
Avoiding drinking

  1. 1
    Be aware that drinking alcohol is often a result of peer pressure. There is a tendency among college students to drink excessively, and this might lead others to think that drinking alcohol in large quantities is the socially accepted norm. [1][2] Understanding this is the first step toward realizing that drinking should always be a choice rather than a way to conform, and you shouldn't let others dictate your personal choices and lifestyle.
    • Remember that social pressure can be both direct (if someone offers you a drink) or indirect (if you feel like drinking because those around you are all doing it).[3] Once you identify these two different forms of pressure, you can learn how to deal with both by finding ways to say no or acting on your own will to curb your temptations.
  2. 2
    Make your intention not to drink known in advance. You can inform your closer circle of friends that you have decided not to drink alcohol to avoid being offered a drink. This can help you sidestep awkward situations in which someone buys you a drink and you have to turn it down, or explain your decision each time you are in a drinking situation. [4]
    • For example, when you’re planning a night out with your friends you can tell them “I don’t think I’ll be drinking tonight, I’ve decided to take a break for a while”. If someone asks you to go to a club, say “I’m totally in, but I’ll take it easy and stick to soda” or make a little joke: “I’d love to come, are teetotalers allowed?”
    • The manner of the delivery of your explanation is important because you don't want to come across as alienating others by being condescending or judgmental.
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    Turn down a drink politely but firmly when you are offered one. Being firm does not mean that you should be rude or explain why you prefer not to drink. Replying "No thanks" is enough to make your intentions clear and definitive.[5] If you are asked why you are not drinking, provide a brief explanation as to your choice but still indicate that you recognize other people want to experiment and "have fun". For example:
    • "No thanks, I don't drink (often). I have some digestion issues and it's better for me to stick to soda."
    • "No thanks, I don't drink because of my beliefs. But I've got a great mocktail here and the night's young, so let's party!"
    • "Thanks but I've already had my drink for the night and I'm sticking with water from here on. I've got a research paper to complete in the morning and it's already overdue."
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    Avoid taking negative attitudes and verbal criticism about your choice personally. It can be confronting to someone who wants to drink a lot to have someone who isn't drinking stand up for themselves. In a way, doing this in a drinking culture environment is breaking with conformity and for some people, this feels threatening. Rather than seeing their negative attitude toward you as personal, take it as a reflection of their own conflicted feelings about lacking control over alcohol consumption.
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    Stay firm. Once you've announced clearly how you deal with alcohol, stick with it. Standing by principles and beliefs can be hard in the face of peer pressure, but learn to roll with being outside your comfort zone and remain a strong individual. And whatever you do, don't lose your cool.

Method 2
Finding Fun Alternatives to Drinking

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    Keep partying. Not drinking doesn't mean you're not able to have fun. Binge and excessive drinking is never healthy, whatever your age, but partying is good for your soul. The objective of a party is ultimately to socialize and you can do that with a glass of Virgin Mojito or Soda in your hand.
    • Enjoy the dance floor. Keep your water intake up and you can rock the floor all night long.
    • Hold a champagne glass or similar with non-alcoholic cider in it, or a tumbler with dark soda in it. This can help you fend off unwanted offers and saves unnecessary explanations to people you hardly know.
  2. 2
    Spend time talking with friends and listening to them attentively. Most people love it when someone else pays them good attention! Although alcohol might help you unwind if you're the shy type, a clear mind allows you to make a great conversation and stay focused on whatever is the subject.
  3. 3
    Become a mocktail master. If you have a house party with your friends, you can hit the kitchen counter and introduce them to the art of making great alcohol-free drinks that look just as cool as an ordinary cocktail. There is an infinite number you can learn to make: try your hand at a Basil Lemon Mojito Mocktail, a Ginger and Fred, a Safe Sex on the Beach, a Virgin Flirtini or a Roy Rodgers.

Method 3
Finding Environments with Less Alcohol

  1. 1
    Have a night in with your friends. Being the host gives you an edge on what direction the night can take: you can cook delicious food for them, watch a movie together, play games and organize a lot of activities that don’t involve drinking.
    • Some might look for a beer in your fridge, but if it’s not there, they won’t make a drama out of it. They’ll understand this is not the kind of night you had in mind and respect your choice.
  2. 2
    Go to a restaurant. Although most restaurants do serve alcohol, it’s not common to booze while munching an enchilada or sipping a miso soup. Your friends might still opt for a margarita, but it will be much easier for you to get away with a glass of water or soda.
    • If you still get asked why you’re not drinking and you don’t feel like giving an explanation, cut it short by saying that you usually don’t drink while eating.
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    Go to a coffee shop. Coffee shops are great places to socialize, spend some quiet time together and have a chat. They're especially popular among college students as a laid-back environment where to study or even just meet friends to talk rather than party hard. Most importantly, they usually don’t serve any alcoholic drinks and no one you’ll be with will expect to find one.
    • Pick a coffee shop with a cool vibe. Coffee shops vary widely in terms of style and customers’ target, and some of them can even be themed. Your friends will appreciate finding out about a new place that is every bit as funky as their favorite bar or club.
    • If you’re planning to go to a coffee shop after dinner, make sure it's open late. Some of them might close down much earlier than bars or clubs!
  4. 4
    Go to the movies. Everyone enjoys a good movie, and there’s no better way to watch it than with friends. There’ll be plenty of popcorn, candies, snack bars, and soda. Though many independent theatres (and some larger ones) serve beer and wine, drinking is not the primary focus of going to the movies, so you shouldn't feel obligated to have a drink.
    • Many movie theatres also offer special discounts for students; be sure to take your student ID card.
    • Some colleges have an independent movie theatre on campus. They're usually considerably cheaper than the local multiplex, and sometimes they might even have free screenings for students!
  5. 5
    Attend student-oriented events at your college. Schools and dorms organize special events for their students on a regular basis to encourage new friendships and socialization. It will be less likely to find alcohol there, especially if these are designed for students below drinking age.


  • Drinking water is always the best option: you can also benefit from the added water intake.
  • Listen to your body and respect it. If you feel awful after drinking, that's the best reason not to do it.
  • Offer to be a designated driver. That way, you can make sure that your friends get home safely and avoid a lot of explanations.
  • If you do drink every once in a while, drink for taste. Don't drink to get drunk.


  • Hang out with people who respect your decision. Real friends will understand your choice not to drink and may even come to rely on you as the person who keeps them level-headed about drinking in excess.

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