Enjoy yourself without getting drunk

Some students won’t want to follow the tips below.  I know at least one person who is usually grateful for the advice posts I publish, but who’ll look at this post and think, “Are you mad?  My purpose for going out is to get drunk!”

photo by Matt Dinnery

photo by Matt Dinnery

But not everyone enjoys the prospect of going out and getting drunk.  Some want to enjoy themselves and get carried away.  It happens.  Some even think student drinking is a necessary evil.

Drinking alcohol isn’t ‘necessary’.  It doesn’t have to be evil either.

If you do want to have fun (and even a drink or two…or three) without getting slaughtered, read on!  If you’d rather keep getting drunk, enjoying memorable nights that you don’t remember, you can look away now. But there’s no harm in considering it, is there? 🙂

  • Read one of my previous posts about alcohol, “18 Tips to Tame the Spirits“.
  • Sing along to the music.  Dance to it. Let the music take you!
  • If you feel happier socialising with a drink in your hands, make it a soft drink.
  • Mirror others. If everyone around you is going crazy, go crazy with them!  It doesn’t matter if you’re the only sober one.  Nobody will care or notice by this point.
  • Don’t feel guilty by not drinking alcohol.  If you plan to be completely sober, don’t worry about how you’ll look.  Just decline alcohol and any mild attempts to pressure you into having “just one”.  Friends are unlikely to keep on at you all night, so ride it out.
  • Have an excuse ready. If you can’t be bothered to argue, say something like you’ve had to take headache tablets so you can’t drink alcohol, or you’ve got important work to do early the next morning.  So long as it’s believable, not subject to question, and not the same excuse you give every time, you’ll probably be fine.
  • To be sure it’s alcohol-free, buy the drinks yourself. Alternatively, help get the drinks in when someone else buys a round.  Some people, even friends, can’t resist spiking a drink with more than you asked for.  Bypass that and be in control of your drink from the moment it’s handed over the bar.
  • Don’t talk about how much or little you usually drink.  As soon as that line of questioning starts, it’s like a negotiation.  If anyone asks you, politely explain that you aren’t drinking tonight.  If they insist on questioning beyond that, I’d question how good a friend they really are…
  • Don’t race.  If you have a drink in your hand, you don’t have to drink it quickly.  Sip it slowly.  You don’t have to accept a drink every time it’s a new round (and you don’t have to be involved in a round of drinks anyway, if that’s easier).  If you’ve still got a drink in your hand, decline another.  You can’t exactly be accused of not drinking! And even if you’re bought another drink against your wishes, you don’t have to drink it…
  • Don’t talk about drinking habits (yours or others) while you’re out. The more you bring attention to it, the more it becomes an issue.
  • Go for low alcohol. Have a shandy, a non-alcoholic cocktail, or a drink with a very little alcohol content.  You’re taking it slow that night…nothing wrong with that!
  • Eat plenty food and drink plenty water before (and during) an outing. Without food and water, you’ll probably get drunk quickly.  So have a proper meal and stay hydrated for the sake of your body, as well as your alcohol levels.
  • There are more non-drinking students than you think.  Today, you’re likely to find at least a few teetotalers at uni.  There may be loads.  You’re certainly not on your own if you don’t drink at all.  So don’t sweat it.
  • Don’t speak up! Don’t tell people you’re not going to drink.  Don’t tell them you’re not going to drink much.  Don’t tell them anything about how much you may or may not drink.  It’s nothing to do with them and it’s just starting a conversation about it.  Don’t go there.
  • Most people don’t care. A certain amount of worry is given to alcohol consumption at uni.  But many people say they don’t really think about how much other people want to drink.  The few people who do like to pile on the pressure give everyone else a bad name.
photo by Matt Dinnery

photo by Matt Dinnery


  1. Thanks so much for this article! I don’t drink and was concerned about what on earth I was going to do next year going to uni.
    From what I’ve experienced your points are very true – the more you advertise the fact that you don’t drink the more people make a game out of pressuring you.
    Two of the best people I know have a drink at the start of the night and then spend the rest of the night having fun but also in a position to help others who decided to go all out, saving them from things they may regret

    1. Great to hear from you! Best of luck with your route to university. Enjoy every moment!

      Yes, with people around who haven’t been drinking so much, they certainly can help out the less sober people. Although I sometimes find that a shame…just because they aren’t drunk shouldn’t mean they’re faced with the burden of drunken friends. I’ve known some amazing people who take it in their stride and are happy to help because they value their friends. Now that’s caring!

      I don’t know if the two people you know will go out together in this way, but I’ve found that moral support is another good way of laying off the drink. If more than one person decides not to drink (or enjoys just a small amount), the pressure is off due to strength in numbers.

      Whatever happens with you next year, you have no reason to be concerned. Even if you’re pressured by others, any true friend will back off pretty quickly. Anyone who doesn’t is either insecure or a pretty poor friend. So if you remain teetotal I’m sure you’ll be absolutely fine!

  2. Excellent Post, Martin!

    I think what factors in as well is your community culture. I’d say that my university being dominated by male students (almost 75%), hanging around drunk is commonplace.

    Still, you can make active choices about your social connections, like going only to bars and clubs where smoking is prohibited, or the drinks menu doesn’t create extra incentives to go over board.

    Also, know your body well. One main reason for me to refrain from alcohol is that it has serious health implications. I might feel terrible the next day, you’re not doing your stomach and liver a favor and a slew of other ailments come along with it (skin diseases, halitosis and other wonderful symptoms).

    1. Thanks, Arjun. Drunken behaviour is unlikely to go away any time soon, but you’re right that the social connections you make help determine how far you’re personally involved in that behaviour. Even if you hang around with heavy drinkers who don’t stop when they’ve had enough, there are choices like leaving earlier than others or going along with other people who don’t rely on alcohol so strongly.

      My university was dominated by female students. It didn’t stop the level of ‘alcomafrolics’ taking place. Drinking isn’t going to go away any time soon, but I think the UK is about to see a bigger push toward promoting responsible drinking. Student Unions are making moves now to help calm the situation, especially after the case of Philip Laing that featured so heavily in the news.

Comments are closed.