Surviving being sober in college

Hugh Farrell

Staying sober in college can sound like a nightmare for some or just the way it is for others. 

Whether it be by choice or for reasons out of your control, going about college life without drinking is far from the typical experience.

The biggest issue with not drinking is socialising. College life in Ireland revolves heavily around alcohol consumption and even if you’re not, it’s safe to say your friends will be. With it being such a big part of social events it can be hard to distance yourself from it completely. If you end up being sick for a while and can’t drink you’re left with the option of either not going out or going out sober.

The big issue with going out sober is that you tend to realise why a lot of people probably shouldn’t drink. Having your wits about you while listening to people who are running on about 50 per cent can actually get old very quickly. While a lot of people are fine when they’re drunk, it’s the ones who aren’t that you tend to notice more with a clear head. Even if you’re usually the sober-ish one of your friend group who ends up keeping an eye on everyone, the nights out are definitely more bearable with a few pints.

While it’s definitely cheaper, there’s a misconception around the idea that staying sober doesn’t cost a thing. The reality behind that is just that you end up paying for the classics of a night out entry/tickets if you’re going to an event, transport to and from and probably some food after. So if you’re doing this you’re actually just paying this to watch your friends enjoy themselves. Is drink necessary to have a good time? Absolutely not. Is it more preferable when everyone around is drinking? Without a doubt.

The benefits of not drinking for social occasions are essentially just not feeling as rough the next day and the potential for a better quality of conversation but the typical night out means that you’ll be up late enough that you’re still likely to miss that early lecture and the quality of conversation with those around you won’t require that much brain capacity.

While most of this might sound like a complaint about drinking, the truth is that it’s just a way of saying that you can’t enjoy the same social activities with your friends if you’re not drinking and they are.

Having to stay sober for a while means that you have to be pickier with the nights out. The weekly trips to Copper Face Jack’s and Dicey’s might turn into only going to the pre-drinks and maybe going out after if there’s a special occasion.

If you’re not drinking, it could be the perfect time to take up an activity, join a society or work harder at something you usually do.

If you’re not drinking because of illness, options become limited and you just need to plough through.


Hugh Farrell

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