Photo Courtesy of Buena Park High School

May 21, 2024

EICHER | Why I Don’t Drink in College

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On the night of my 21st birthday, I stood in my living room with a circle of friends around me. As the clock struck midnight, they toasted their glasses of champagne. My glass was filled with water. While I was happy to begin another year of my life, my new age meant little to me. 

At 22, it’s been more than two years since I’ve had a sip of alcohol. In college, this is often seen as an anomaly — many times, I am the only person in the room who isn’t drinking. I would like to preface that quitting drinking likely is not the best decision for everyone. As I’ve learned, the only person who can truly decide whether your habits surrounding alcohol are right for you is yourself. It’s important to understand the risks and the benefits associated with any choice you make and to use your own judgment to make the choice that is best for you. 

I stopped drinking over the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college. Although I won’t divulge the personal reasons I had for the decision, I considered many of the experiences I had surrounding alcohol and realized it was in my best interest to cut it out entirely. 

For me, most nights that I began with a drink would devolve into binge drinking. The second the alcohol hit my tongue, a strong urge to share all the personal details of my life to anyone who would listen would overcome me. Countless times, I ended up sharing sensitive information that I later regretted. The more drinks I consumed, the more I wanted to continue drinking, and my nights would quickly turn hazy. I would quickly lose control of my motor skills and would often wake up the next morning with mysterious bruises on my body — and once, a twisted ankle. Often, I would not remember how I got home. My drinking frequently put me in dangerous situations, where I was barely aware of what was going on around me. And, of course, I would experience excruciating hangovers the following day, wondering time and time again why I chose to make myself feel so sick. 

Everyone who has had a drunken night can probably share in some of the experiences I’ve listed, and some of you may not see these as a big deal. There is no shame in accidentally drinking too much or having a chaotic night every once in a while. But for me, this chaos occurred far too often. It put strain on the relationships in my life and on my mental health. It often rendered me incapable of showing up for my commitments in the ways I intended to. I felt myself going down a dangerous path, and eventually, I knew I had to put a stop to it. 

Quitting drinking was difficult for the first few weeks. But a month after my last drink, I already started to feel a change in my life. My mental health improved greatly, as I began to learn how to deal with the issues that arose in my life without turning to alcohol. My skin was glowing, and my eyes were full of life. I felt more positive about life in general. The longer I went without drinking, the better I felt, and I eventually reached a point where I no longer desired to return to it ever again. 

The shift in my mindset that came from quitting is the greatest gift this decision has given me. I have learned to make decisions for myself, despite what everyone around me is doing. I consistently reflect upon the choices I am making and whether they are helping me become the person I truly want to be. I am more mindful of the people and experiences I invite into my life. I am fully present in every moment, and I have the gift of the memories I would have forgotten had I drank. I’ve learned to love every second of life, good and bad, and to push through the difficult situations that arise with a clear mind. And I’ve realized that no one else really cares if you’re drinking or not, so why let them influence your decision?

I pass no judgment on anyone who drinks, partly because I used to myself, but also because the decision to drink is an individual choice. Everyone should have the power to do what they want with their bodies. And if that power lies in a substance, you have the power to reclaim it. 

I gave much of the first two years of my college experience to alcohol, but over the past two years, I have gained so much back. I have gotten closer with the people I love and formed so many genuine connections with new people. I have created memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I have made mistakes, I have learned and I have grown. I am more myself now than ever.

Aimée Eicher is a graduating senior from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She served as the Assistant Managing Editor on The Sun’s 141st Masthead and Assistant News Editor on the 140th Masthead. She can be reached at [email protected].

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