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NIDA. (2015, April 16). A Sober College Experience?. Retrieved from

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The NIDA Blog Team
April 16 2015
A group of college students

You’ve heard that when it comes to drinking alcohol or doing drugs that “everybody is doing it.” But actually, data shows that in 2014, teen alcohol and drug use has steadily declined over the past several years. 

But that doesn’t mean that some teens aren’t doing it. And some of them end up with addiction issues.  And while there is no stage of your life when managing addiction is “easy,” there are times and places where it can be especially hard.  

College is one of those places. There are house parties, tailgating, bars, and lots and lots of drinking.  And even if you’ve stopped using drugs or alcohol, staying clear of temptation may feel like that means having to pass on much of the college social scene.

But sometimes just finding a few friends is enough to keep your head above water and out of trouble. 

Even though most kids make good choices in college, some are not skilled at resisting peer pressure to overdo. Each year, 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries. So it’s important to pay attention to what friends you are hanging out with, and respect the wishes of those who want to stay away from alcohol and drugs.

Some college campuses offer groups for those in recovery, such as the Collegiate Recovery Program at Texas Tech, and the Collegiate Recovery Community at the University of Alabama. These groups organize events for students to enjoy without alcohol or drugs, such as dance parties, sporting events, or sober tailgates. Other examples can be found at campuses across the country.

Some colleges also offer you the option of living in a “sober dorm” where rules about alcohol and drugs are enforced, and you can live with other students committed to staying away from the distractions of too much partying. You can find many of these options online by searching for “sober dorms.”

Our sister institute, the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism (NIAAA), has a great fact sheet on college drinking. NIAAA also has a fact sheet on how to know if you have a problem with drinking.

Tell us in comments: Why do you think alcohol appears to be to such a big deal in college?