Stacey Kaliabakos ‘23
Going to college is undoubtedly a stressful transition for most people. College is extremely different from most high schools: you are taken away from your family and friends that you have known your whole life and are placed in an environment that demands a lot from you, both physically (ahem, Holy Cross’ stairs) and mentally. Starting out in college can cause some natural social anxiety to surface for plenty of students. Although most colleges, including the College of the Holy Cross, offer a multitude of activities to alleviate some of the social and academic pressures students are constantly under, many students will ultimately fall into drinking, party culture, and substance abuse. Many people find that alcohol makes finding friends and socializing in general much easier, and although there are students who do not take their alcohol and drug consumption too far, there is still a considerable amount who fall into the bad habit of relying on substances for a good time. Binge drinking or drinking “to have more fun” lead many students down the path of addiction.
Substance abuse and addiction can cause a range of serious issues for college students. These can include academic, physical, mental, and even social problems. A study done in 2019 called the “Monitoring the Future Survey” found that the highest rates of marijuana, amphetamines, hallucinogens, and other substances are from college-aged students (early to mid-twenties), so it is extremely important to address these issues that are plaguing our current age group.
Alcohol and drug usage tend to interfere with academic performance. The whole point of college, it is often said, is to take advantage of the privilege of your education so as to guarantee future job prospects in the field of your choice. Consistent substance use that interferes with your academics can decrease your chances of getting your dream post-college job or lead to a multitude of other negative post-graduation consequences.
Although your college years are also meant to be a time of self-discovery, friendship-making, independence, and experience, the pressure of college life can sometimes force students to buckle beneath the new lifestyle they are meant to adapt to. With a life of less structure and more commitments than that of childhood and early adolescence, college students are more vulnerable to succumbing to substance abuse issues. Alcohol and drugs are, unfortunately, extremely accessible on virtually every college campus in the country and are, therefore, almost a constant temptation. I have personally been in a variety of situations where someone has tried to convince me to drink or use marijuana and have had to repeatedly say no to them, which has resulted in an uncomfortable situation for both of us. My reasons for not drinking or using drugs may differ from other people’s and may be completely in opposition to some students’ desire to drink, but it is still important that my choices are respected. At an institution with the slogan “men and women, for and with others,” it is important to recognize that everyone may have their own approach to navigating substance use (e.g., not partaking in that culture). It is equally important to help people who you may think have sunk into substance use to the point of addiction. I have heard the phrase “You’re not an addict until you graduate” way too many times for my own peace of mind and have thus been motivated to speak out against substance abuse when I can.
There are many ways to enjoy yourself without partaking in substance use at Holy Cross. CAB, the student-run Campus Activities Board, is always organizing events for students to take part in. We also live in Worcester, which has many opportunities for fun—such as going out to restaurants or shopping. A simple video game or board game night with friends is also a great substitute for a night out at a club or bar. If you do choose to drink or to take drugs, remember to do so responsibly.
Image courtesy of Society19.com