Not Drinking?

For whatever reason you choose not to drink, know that you’re in good company at Princeton! Many people choose not to drink for a variety of reasons.

Tips for socializing

Alcohol isn’t necessary for being social even though some people may feel more comfortable with it if they are drinking. You can increase your confidence in social settings by trying the following:

  1. Socialize in ways that feel psychologically safe and nurturing for you. There are many ways to socialize in addition to parties.  If you are unsure what you want to do, ask yourself if you are really looking forward to the event or if you feel guilty about letting people down or being judged as antisocial if you don’t go.
  2. Practice social skills. Like all skills, socializing gets easier the more you do it. Remember that people are trying to get to know each other, and they’ll probably be glad to have someone else break the ice. Start with a simple hello, then ask if they like the song that’s playing, or what their favorite song is, or if they’ve seen a great show recently. Then, listen closely to them and the conversation should flow from there.
  3. Don’t assume others are judging you. Most people are happy to talk with you and don’t mind if the introductions are a little awkward. If you can let go of what you’re imagining other people think and enjoy yourself, you'll inspire others to do the same.
  4. Join the non-drinking activities. You don't have to be the best at something to join in.  Giving something new a try and making mistakes with others as you learn is a great way to bond. 
  5. Join as a group. If socializing makes you nervous, see if some of your friends want to join the activity without drinking. If you’re with a group, you’ll have other sober people you can talk to and connect with all night.

While, it’s normal to experience some nervousness when you put yourself out there, Counseling and Psychological Services is here for you if you think it may be more than the usual nervousness.

"Why aren't you drinking?": How to Respond

In American culture, drinking in college (and in general) is portrayed as a norm. Sometimes it’s hard for people to understand why someone wouldn’t want to drink, even though many people choose to abstain or limit their drinking. While it’s not polite to ask about someone’s choice to not drink, it happens.

While you don't owe anyone an explanation for your choice, here are some ways to respond if someone does ask you:

  • Feel free to be honest with them and let them know your motivation for not drinking. Some people may even benefit from your example.
  • You don't have to give a reason. You can just change the topic.  Ask if they like the song that's playing. 
  • Hold a non-alcoholic drink in your hand. If you’re using an opaque cup, people can’t tell what’s inside. Even just having a cup in your hand might stop people from asking.
  • It can sometimes feel uncomfortable or rude to refuse a drink when someone offers one.  Here are some ways to say no.

Things to do with other students

There are lots of fun things to do with other Princeton students. Here are just a few ideas:

Feel like hanging out with friends? 

  • Consider hosting a watch party of your favorite movie or show. Invite your friends, make some popcorn, and start streaming!
  • Movies and TV aren't your style? You can host a game night or play an online game with your friends.
  • An arts/crafts night can be fun.

Looking to join in on a Princeton activity?

  • Join a cultural or an affinity group.  You can find links to all of them here.
  • Join a student organization.
  • Find events at
  • Check out Coffee Club.
  • Volunteer with other students.
  • Your residential college (or Grad Life if you are a graduate student) will have lots of activities, too.

Need a break from Princeton?

  • Look for Tigers in Town events on
  • OA has a great list of places for getting outdoors in the Princeton area.
  • The Historical Society of Princeton has walking tours including digital tours you can do on your own.
  • Grounds for Sculpture is an awesome place!  And you can use your student ID to get a discount student ticket.
  • With two major cities, New York City and Philadelphia, about an hour away, you have access to many cultural, art, historical, and other activities.  Princeton Public Library has museum passes available.  If you travel to either area, be mindful of safety precautions and adhere to local public health guidance. 

For graduate students, sign up for the graduate student events listserv to get weekly emails of events.  

Resources for Students in Recovery

There are hundreds of thousands of students in recovery from substance use disorders on college campuses across the U.S. If you are in recovery, there are resources here to support you. 

Learn about on- and off-campus recovery resources, including local support groups and counseling options.