The pressure of drinking and smoking at the end of high school is inevitable. We are taught by our teachers, our parents and professors that drinking can have very negative effects on our health and future. I, for one, understood the negative effects of drinking, but was more concerned with the idea of peer pressure.
If everybody else is doing it, shouldn’t I be doing it? If everybody else is drinking out of that bottle, shouldn’t I be drinking out of that bottle? If everyone is downstairs smoking, should I just go sit down there and see if I want to do it?
My twin brothers are currently at that stage in high school where college visits are every other weekend and experimentation with alcohol can happen every Friday night. Granted, my brothers aren’t necessarily at parties, but they are most definitely concerned with the idea that if everyone else is doing it, should they?
As someone who was not one to binge drink or get in trouble in high school, I learned around my senior year of high school what is good and bad for my health when it comes to drinking. Some kids learn at age 14 how to sneak alcohol past their parents and go binge drinking with their friends. I, on the other hand, was taught by my parents how to enjoy a drink and be able to control myself.
Hearing that my brothers are going through these questions in their heads makes me think about others that are asking those questions at parties in college. If everyone else is dancing around you, sweating, singing and holding a bottle in their hand, maybe that is what everybody should be doing. Right?
College does not necessarily mean being crammed in a basement on Warrensville like packed sardines about to burst open at the sight of flashing police-car lights. College can mean weekend trips to visit friends, Friday nights downtown for dinner or hitting as many concerts as you can before the end of the semester.
Regardless of what you choose to do with your social time in college, drinking culture is going to remain prominent whether you partake or not. Negative drinking culture is a growing problem that needs to be talked about across college campuses.
For most, drinking with friends feels like part of the college experience. Whether it be during Streak Week, Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day or a tailgate, there are many opportunities that call young adults to drink.
I do not want to demonize the drinking culture, but using it as a tool to try to fit in can have very dangerous implications. Overly frequent drinking can become normalized so quickly on a university’s campus. Sometimes students even forget what it is like to have fun without the euphoric feeling of being drunk.
This often reminds me of the subconscious action of constantly checking your phone when you’re not talking to somebody at a dinner table or out with friends. For that 30 seconds that you feel alone and not part of the crowd, you submerge yourself into your phone.
Similarly, when everybody else around you is drinking and dancing around, it makes it difficult to be the only sober friend there. Once again, you feel like you’re missing out on the fun. We succumb to the pressure and grab that bottle.
Hearing that my brothers are going through these questions got me thinking about how people should be more aware of the effects alcohol has on the college experience. While it can be fun at certain times to have some drinks with your friends after a long week, don’t forget the manipulative power of drinking culture. Don’t forget about everything else there is to experience in college without a night of bingeing.