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Rise of the sober college student

Tuesday, April 11, 2023
Chronicle of Higher Education

Each year around St. Patrick’s Day, Sober Skate — co-hosted by Michigan’s Collegiate Recovery Program and the Washtenaw Recovery Advocacy Project — offers local college students and community members a dry alternative to the holiday’s liquor-soaked festivities. Not all attendees identify as sober, but they’ve all chosen to abstain from alcohol on one of the highest-risk drinking nights of the year. In 1981, 82 percent of students reported drinking in the previous 30 days. In 2021, that figure was less than 60 percent. The data come from the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Monitoring the Future survey, which experts say is a reliable measure of students’ alcohol consumption. Students’ participation in drinking trended downward until about 1997 and has continued to decline slightly since then. While young people have many personal reasons for making the choice, confluent forces — a more inclusive society, a stronger safety net for those struggling with addiction, and increased skepticism toward alcohol — have made it easier than ever to be a college student who doesn’t drink. 

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