Empowered Choices

The transition to college can come with multiple potential challenges around safe decision making, especially concerning substance use. In many cases, students may give in to perceived or observed peer behaviors. In instances of decision making, students might typically find themselves being exposed to 2 different types of pressure. 

  • Direct Social Pressure - Feeling need to drink because someone offers you or an opportunity to
  • Indirect Social Pressure - Feeling tempted to drink because being around others who are drinking, environmental advertisements, etc., even if no one physically has offered you a drink


  • Avoiding the situation altogether is sometimes the best way for someone to avoid feeling pressure of using substances 
  • Practice self-reminders that if you avoid/miss an event, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to turn it down every time. 
  • Once you have confidence in your resistance skills, you may decide to ease steadily into situations you’ve been reducing/avoiding. 
  • Stay connected with friends by hanging out in situations that aren’t centered around drinking 


When you know you will be exposed to alcohol, it may be beneficial to come prepared of how to handle yourself through some pressure. You'll need to be ready to deliver a convincing "no, thanks." Your goal is to be clear and concise as well as friendly and polite. Try to avoid prolonging the discussion if someone offers you a drink; this may increase the chances of not adhering to your intended plan of not drinking. 


The way you think about any decision to change can affect your success. Many people who decide to cut back or quit drinking think, "I am not allowed to drink," as if an external authority were imposing rules on them. Thoughts like this can breed resentment and make it easier to not stick with your plan.

  • It's important to challenge this kind of thinking by telling yourself that you are in charge, that you know how you want your life to be, and that you have decided to make a change. 

Similarly, you may worry about how others will react or view you if you make a change. Again, challenge these thoughts by remembering that it's your life and your choice, and that your decision should be respected.

What’s on My Playlist? 

It can be common for pop-cultural music to include a “normative” outlook of substance use in society through song lyrics. Artists sometimes don’t just give a passive nod to substance use, but rather make it the clear and sometimes not so clear point of the song. We can reflect on what all our playlist music entails and think on how it might influence our actions and/or beliefs on different subjects. 


A study found that smokers had nearly double the risk of developing depression or schizophrenia that nonsmokers had. View full study.