Beer Edition: The art of mindful drinking

Mindless drinking is everywhere in college. Mindful drinking is the antidote.

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Collegian | Brian Peña

(Graphic illustration by Brian Peña | The Collegian)

Dylan Tusinski, Collegian Columnist

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

You don’t have to get drunk every time you drink. It’s a truth that can be hard to learn, especially in college. Alcohol can be the language of the college student, and unfortunately, binge drinking makes you fluent.

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“Federal health officials say more than 80% of college students drink” and that about half binge drink, according to NPR. Those numbers have created a culture of drinking that permeates almost every element of a college student’s life. There’s an indisputable attitude among college students that the more you can drink, the cooler you are, and that mindset has real consequences.

That cultural relationship with alcohol has impacted college students in a number of ways, but perhaps the biggest toll has been on our collective mental health. Naturally, being seen as uncool only worsens our mental health, so we choose to drink socially. The only issue is drinking can often worsen your mental health, especially the more you do it.

That feedback loop can very quickly turn into a downward spiral. You get sad because you don’t feel social enough. To feel social, you need to drink. When you drink, you get sad. When you get sad, you drink. It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s one that’s easy to fall into.

“Mindful drinking is, in short, being intentional about alcohol. Mindful drinking says instead of saying ‘screw it’ and taking another shot just because it’s in front of you, you should have a solid reason to take that shot.”

Now, all that being said, I’m not here to give you a high school health class-style lecture wherein I try to scare you out of drinking. We’re all adults, and we can all make our own decisions, especially regarding substance use. Instead, I’m going to try and help give advice to get yourself out of that cycle by utilizing mindful drinking.

It sounds generic, but the first step to getting better is acknowledging you have a problem. If you’re blacking out every weekend, drinking every time you’re in a group of friends or downing seven shots just to feel a buzz, you’ve got a problem.

Mindful drinking is, in short, being intentional about alcohol. Mindful drinking says instead of saying “screw it” and taking another shot just because it’s in front of you, you should have a solid reason to take that shot.

I first heard — or read — about mindful drinking in a New York Times article a few months ago. The article interviewed a number of scholars and writers who had become interested in taking a more intentional approach to drinking and described how to go from being reliant on alcohol to being intentional about drinking.

It’s easy in college to drink without even thinking about it. Alcohol is everywhere, and that accessibility makes it easy to slip into the cycle of drinking. Mindful drinking introduces the notion that taking a moment to pause before you take the next drink isn’t just good but necessary.

It only takes a couple seconds to employ the concept of mindful drinking. Instead of impulsively taking another shot or downing another beer, pause for just a moment and reflect on the situation. Will the hangover be worth it? Is it really that fun to lose control? Do you really want to black out again?

Questioning the reasons you’re drinking forces you to rationalize it. Nine times out of 10, it’s pretty hard to come up with a good reason to take another drink.

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Reach Dylan Tusinski at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @unwashedtiedye.