Tips for Staying Sober as a College Student

tips for staying sober as a college student

If you went to college, you probably remember the moment you received the acceptance letter to the college of your dreams. Not only did it mean you’d achieved a significant milestone, but it also meant your life was about to change dramatically. Throughout high school, many of us had our family’s guidance to keep us on the straight and narrow. If we snuck in late from a friend’s house or experimented with drugs or alcohol, our parents knew right away and had a punishment in store for us. 

If you’ve had a similar experience, you may be able to relate. As you headed to college, your family’s guidance may have slowly slipped away as you took your first step toward adulthood and independence. When you made it to college, everything changed. The high-school friends you grew up with had gone their separate ways, and if you moved across the country, even the weather was different. Nothing felt the same. As you entered a period of growth and jumped on the path toward adulthood, you might have wanted to experiment and try things you could have never gotten away with at home.

Even today, drugs, alcohol, and parties are widespread on college campuses, and a student’s natural curiosity may get the better of them. While a vast majority of college students will experiment with drugs and alcohol, some won’t, and learning some tips for staying sober as a college student can save many of them from making poor decisions. 

Access to Alcohol, Drugs Is Easy on College Campuses

What makes this time even more challenging for a college student is how easy it is to access drugs or alcohol. During this time, we hardly spend any time alone. We spend it with friends studying, going from one dorm room to another, and always keeping busy. The constant changes in location increase the odds you’ll come across someone using drugs or alcohol. 

Even if you haven’t used them before or you have no desire to, the friends you’ve made in college might be using them, leading you to feel pressured to try them. While some of us can merely try drugs or alcohol and move no further with it, others carry specific genetics that predisposes them to addiction. Some drugs, like cocaine or opioids, could cause them significant issues, even if they tried it once. 

Below, we’ll take a look at the most common drugs affecting students on campus and share tips on how to remain sober.

The Drugs College Students Most Commonly Abused

Apart from studying and planning for your future, it’s hard to deny that college is about partying and testing limits with your newfound freedoms. Most students who didn’t drink in high school will try their first sip of alcohol in college. In contrast, others will experiment with hallucinogens and other party drugs, increasing the odds of developing a chemical dependency. Although there’s no shortage of drugs on a college campus, below are the most common substances abused at school.


staying sober as a college student

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that alcohol is the most abused drug on campus. In every movie we watch where the characters are college-age, they’re all playing drinking games and looking to cause havoc. It’s common to hear about the stories on campus about friends going out and partying, blacking out, and wearing everything like a badge of honor. While it may seem cool at that age, it’s dangerous and causes many fatalities. We hear one too many stories of hazing gone wrong on college campuses where a student drinks too much, gets alcohol poisoning, and falls victim to alcohol overdose


Even before legalization occurred on a wide scale, marijuana was a highly abused drug on college campuses for several decades. In some cases, it was even more prevalent than alcohol. Marijuana is believed to be harmless, which is why it’s so widespread, but that’s not the case. Many use it to relax after stressful tests or after a long night of partying. However, it can lead to poor judgment, resulting in procrastination or severe injury. 

Prescription Pills

As you move to higher levels of college, the work continues to get harder and resemble what you’ll encounter in the real world. For that reason, students will do anything they can to gain a competitive advantage, including using drugs like Adderall or Ritalin to focus, even if they don’t have a medical condition. The drugs help block out distractions and help you retain knowledge by concentrating better. These prescription stimulants can lead to addiction and many other issues. 


Cocaine abuse has risen dramatically for all ages and backgrounds, but college students often abuse it with alcohol. It’s highly addictive and sought out to keep the party going. However, it can harm the brain or cause a fatal overdose, even after using it once. If you survive, it can cause you to become addicted and shatter your hopes and dreams. 

How to Stay Sober in College

Despite it sounding like everyone in college is always inebriated, that’s not the case. Many people prefer to stay sober and focus on their studies. Since you never know how a drug will interact with your body’s chemistry, experimentation can also be dangerous, but if you try alcohol once and never go back, it’s not the biggest problem. However, continued use despite the consequences can indicate you’re becoming an alcoholic. If you’re in college and want to focus on becoming a professional, here are tips to stay sober. 

Avoid Triggers

Unfortunately, college is filled with triggers, no matter which way you turn. Although it’s impossible to avoid them all, you can do your best to steer clear of the most obvious triggers you’ll encounter. For example, if your friends want to hit up a house party after dinner, don’t join them. Go back to your dorm or apartment and read a book, go to the gym, or catch up on your favorite TV show. 

Carefully Choose Your Living Environment

Where you rest your head at night must be serene and comfortable. If you choose to live with friends you know like to drink, party, and invite people over after hours, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. Make sure to carefully screen your roommates and the type of environment you’re putting yourself in. Even if you don’t want to drink or use drugs, simply being around substance use where you live can increase your chances of participating in it. 

Keep Yourself Occupied

The famous quote about an idle brain is the devil’s workshop is true. Once you’ve completed your studies and any other activities you had planned for yourself, idle time can get you in trouble. For that reason, boredom may lead to using drugs or alcohol. Fortunately, college students have their fair share of choices when it comes to staying occupied. Join a group on campus that helps others, pick up an instrument, join a band, or start your own club if what you’re into doesn’t exist. Fortunately, you’ll have an overwhelmingly supportive environment to do this.

Follow a Routine

Following a routine is vital. It’ll ensure that you always have something to do and never get wrapped up in idle time. For many students, it’s the first time they’ve been away from family, meaning they’ll develop poor eating habits and gain the infamous “freshman 15.” However, that doesn’t have to happen. Try to incorporate exercise and healthy sleeping habits into your route. We understand there are challenges when it comes to eating healthy, but this kind of routine will keep your sobriety on track. 

Choose Your Friends Wisely

Whether you want to admit it or not, our peers substantially influence us. With that said, surrounding yourself with the right people has a lot to do with you staying sober. We aren’t saying to stay away from friends you may have had forever because of their choices. However, maybe spend time with them during the day to avoid feeling pressured to go out. If these friends pressure you to go out and use drugs, that’s when you should start avoiding them. 

A real friend would never make you feel uncomfortable about making healthy choices; remember that. Don’t be afraid to admit your intentions of remaining sober. Try to connect with others with similar goals. It’s much easier to stay sober if your friends are on a similar path and focus strictly on their studies. 

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