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College freshman cope with peer pressure to drink alcohol

College freshmen face many different pressures when entering college: pressure to make friends, to earn good grades and to fit in socially. For most college freshmen, fitting in socially is heavily dependent on how well they learn to navigate the college “party scene”. The perception of college induced by movies, television and social media is that there is an expectation that students drink to excess. Freshmen are especially susceptible to this idea and find themselves in situations where peer pressure to consume excessive alcohol is extreme.

There are many ways to combat this pressure and still have an enjoyable college experience. It is important to know what you want out of your college social life, and being selective of the people you surround yourself with. An advantage of many college campuses is that they are much larger than high school, thus broadening the scope of people to become friends with. As a freshman, it is important to seek support and look for positive role models among your peers. You should associate with people who are like-minded and share similar values such as maintaining your self-respect, self-control and personal responsibility. Part of growing up and being yourself is taking ownership and responsibility for what you do. Don’t be afraid to say no and take action. Standing up for yourself and others can put a stop to peer pressure while still having fun. You never want to be “THAT guy” or “THAT girl” at the party. With social media today, it is more important than ever to be careful with every decision you make, to maintain self-control and not allow yourself to fall into compromising situations.

Social embarrassments from that text to an ex, or Instagram post no one was ever supposed to see have proven to be a successful way to reach college freshman and other students. Approximately 54% of students have done something they regret while consuming alcohol. One communications/public awareness campaign that focuses on this concept is LessThanUThink, created and implemented first at The University of Alabama by Advertising and Public Relations students. LTUT uses humorous messages to reach college students emphasizing the negative social consequences of binge drinking and the pressures to partake. “You think U can dance, and you could three drinks ago” is one example of a slogan used by LTUT.  No one ever wants to lose control of themselves or their reputation and luckily it does take less than you think to stand up to peer pressure in all aspects of life but especially drinking.

Contrasting the traditional fear based approach when talking about alcohol consumption has proven to be extremely effective and a way to reach students who normally turn the other way when discussing peer pressure and alcohol. By using humor, real life social situations and critical thinking about undesirable outcomes related to drinking, one can engage students at a deeper level and really get them to think about the impacts of alcohol misuse on their social and academic life in college.

Christina Coleman is a member of the LessThanUThink program at University of Alabama and student of Teri Henley, a member of our Educational Advisory Board.

 *The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility ( or any member.*

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