I recently found myself thinking about college party culture. As a non-drinker myself, I have a lot of problems with the stereotypical party culture. I don't think you need to drink to have fun, I don't think parties are essential to each person's college experience, I think blacking out is stupid; you get the idea.
Fortunately, in my own college circle, I have found a much different party culture. One where I have not once been judged for not drinking or pressured into trying. One where I still get invited to come over or go out even without any expectation to be the "mom" for the night.
But I recognize not everyone's situation is the same.
It got me thinking about other people's drinking habits. I know that I am in the minority on this one, but I also had a good feeling more people than one might expect actually don't drink in college. I took to Instagram to find the answers. I put a poll on my story asking if people did or did not drink in college. I also left a questions sticker simply asking "Why or why not?". I also made a separate story post sharing that I do not drink and why.
For me, there are a variety of reasons I do not drink. First of all, due to past family experiences I have always told myself that I would never drink. I have never had any interest in it and I know that I am making my past, present, and future selves proud. I cannot drink due to health issues. Alcoholism runs in my family. And I am far too spastic sober.
Two hundred and thirty-three people responded. Of those, 171, or 73%, said that they did or do drink in college. It is important to note that not all who voted in the poll sent in an explanation. However, of those who did, I broke their responses into categories.
1. Twelve people said that they drink for fun.
According to Emily (20), "You only live once and get one college experience, have fun while you can."
2. Five people said that they drink because it helps with their confidence or anxiety.
3. Four people said that they drink in college for the social aspect.
4. Two people only drink for special occasions.
Kylie (21) says, "Only for special occasions and only in small doses! It's all about the environment and the people".
5. Two people drink essentially because there's nothing else to do.
6. Four people gave answers that didn't necessarily fit into any categories.
According to Sam (22), "I grew up in a conservative family where drinking was entirely bad. I wanted to create my own opinion on whether or not it was something I enjoyed. I learned my limit and learned how to enjoy it in a social setting while not letting it take over my life. It can be an an enjoyable thing with balance".
The majority of people who explained why they drink mentioned the importance of moderation and not blacking out.
Sixty-two, or 27%, said that they did not or do not drink in college. I also divided these responses into categories.
1. Seven people don't drink due to safety reasons.
According to Jade (21), "I don't want to give control to a substance or put it in my body".
2. Six people don't drink because they don't feel like they need it to have fun.
3. Six people don't drink because of health reasons.
4. Five people don't drink because they are not 21 yet.
5. Three people don't drink because alcohol runs in the family.
Amber (20), explains how a family member passed from liver disease as a result of of alcoholism. "Although I wasn't blood related to him, I have seen the effects alcohol can have on someone and their family, and it is not something I want to deal with."
6. Three people don't drink due to the financial expense.
7. Three people say it just tastes too bad.
According to Bekak (20), "A Coca Cola is better".
8. Two people don't drink due to spiritual reasons.
9. Two people don't drink because they don't want to deal with the potential negative consequences.
10. One person doesn't want to act like someone they are not.
11. One person finds absolutely no appeal.
I think that this is so important because it demonstrates that there are so many valid reasons to not drink. But even if there was no long list, no one ever owes you an explanation.
If they don't want to drink, don't force them.
A few responses were a bit in the middle. Essentially, folks who either rarely drink or have stopped drinking.
Carson (20) said, "I didn't like how I felt during and after, and I was tired of forgetting the night before".
Finally, a lesson from Chase (20), "I drank to ease the pain and to submit to social pressures. It was not worth it!"
Deciding whether or not drinking is for you is an entirely personal decision. Neither choice is wrong. It is critical that we make the decision that is best for ourselves as individuals, and not let anyone else sway that decision. It is important to make healthy decisions and to support one another in those decisions.