Alcohol and marijuana seem to be everywhere on college campuses. Many times I find that the use of these substances started back in high school. Many students then continue the same pattern in college. Some students may not feel comfortable hanging out with others without engaging in some extracurricular activity. Most studies would say that students use these extracurricular activities to lower their inhibitions and be more social. College is all about socialization. Many students who admitted to using alcohol or marijuana as a freshman in college stated they used it to feel more confident when meeting new people. What happens is this becomes a way of life and everyone around you now sees you as someone who drinks or smokes at every party.
I have counseled some students who are now labeled, “the party girl or guy” in their circle of friends. They have considered stopping their drinking or smoking habits, but feel obligated to keep their status with their friends. It isn’t so easy to go to a party and say no to the drugs or alcohol offered. Especially if you never have declined these activities in the past.
It can be intimidating to reinvent yourself. To have to explain to your girlfriend or boyfriend why you are making a change. Your friends may even feel like you are trying to blow them off or that you look down on them now. So the pressure to stay in the same situation is intense. Only you know why you do what you do. If you know you don’t need alcohol or marijuana to relax and have a good time, be courageous and show others they can do the same. Sometimes it only takes one person to say no before others will have courage also.
Confidence is the key to saying no. If you’re single and going to parties to find someone to date, be self assured enough to know that you don’t need alcohol or marijuana to be outgoing and social. There are students who go to parties and stay sober. They are able to meet people and have fun just the same. There are many reasons you can say no. One, you may not want to spend the money on it. Two, you know it is illegal (underage drinking and smoking marijuana) and you don’t want to risk having it on your record when applying for a job in the future. Three, you can say you don’t enjoy it anymore and that you would rather not suffer from hangovers in the morning. Four, you can say it is interfering with your grades and you want to be able to stay off of academic probation. Five, you can admit that it changes your personality and you don’t like the choices you make under the influence.
Other students may not be bold enough to say no. There are other ways to cut back on alcohol at parties. You can sip your drink and then go to the bathroom to pour most of it down the drain. If you have a glass you can fill it with water or pop. No one may notice what you are drinking after a couple of hours. You can also switch back and forth between non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks to slow down the amount you consume. You can volunteer to be the designated driver for others at the party. As for marijuana you can share the love and pass it on to someone else.
We all have things we don’t like about ourselves. Alcohol and marijuana may help you to numb out those things or make you not care for the moment that they exist. But they do exist and instead of ignoring things you may not like about yourself or your life, you may just want to work on making positive changes. If you don’t like that you are shy or nervous around others, work on those things to improve your confidence in social situations. If you have a hard time relaxing and letting go of the stress of classes, you can find ways to learn to relax without the help of alcohol or drugs. You want someone to date you for who you are all the time, not just at times when you are drunk or high.
It is also easy to turn to drugs and alcohol to escape the reality of your life for a little while. But then you never really learn how to cope with the stress of college. College is stressful and the urge to escape can be great. I’m encouraging you to fight that urge now because LIFE is stressful. If you don’t learn how to deal with things now, it won’t get easier when you have a full time job, a house and a family to take care of. Unfortunately, things can and will get harder. If you only need a little alcohol and marijuana to relax now, you will need more later. It will be easier to walk away now then it will be in ten years. Figure out how to be yourself and deal with relationships and stress the right way now instead of having a lot of regrets later.
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