Substance Use in College – Sober Voices

Defining College “Fun” & Practicing Inclusivity  

When you think about having fun in college, what comes to mind? Many might say things like: meeting new friends, experiencing independence, moving to a new place, living with roommates, trying new restaurants, going to campus events, joining a club, exploring interests and hobbies, attending sporting events, and more. Some might also think about drinking and substance use as a part of that college “fun.” This is a common thought both because many are curious about their substance use and hoping to experiment and explore as well as because we are often conditioned to consider substance use (particularly binge drinking) as a “normal,” expected part of college life. 

However, it’s important to remember that not only is it not a requirement to drink and use other substances in order to have a fun, normal college experience, for many, it’s an explicit choice to not use. Many entering (or re-entering) college may either be sober/substance-free as a lifestyle choice or as part of their recovery journey. Others may experience a shift in their college experience, initially engaging with substance use and later realizing it is not for them (again whether for addiction-related reasons or more general and proactive lifestyle reasons). Even if you choose to use, we can create safer spaces for ourselves and others if we are intentionally inclusive of those who are choosing not to use.  

New Offering, “Sober Voices” 

Whether you are sober, in recovery, curious about your own substance use, looking to learn more about others who don’t use, or interested in the overlap between substance use and other areas of your life, HPW is excited to offer a new way to explore these topics. We’ve partnered with the team at Sober Voices to provide our campus community access to informative videos and panel discussions on various topics related to sobriety. Check them out here! We invite you to watch these on your own time, with a group of friends, as part of ongoing education and exploration as a department, club, or organization, for personal introspection as well as community care.  

For faculty, staff, and student leaders on campus – reach out to HPW for a discussion guide to help you host a group viewing and discussion (guides are offered for the videos with an asterix). Help us share this resource with our community and we welcome your feedback. Watching these videos may prompt you to consider your own use – know you can reach out to HPW for help navigating on-campus and off-campus resources and referrals. 

  • Keynote: Brandon Anthony & Annie Grace  
  • Panel: Challenges in Accessing Sobriety for BIPOC 
  • Panel: Finding Love (and Sex) While Queer and Sober 
  • Panel: Disability Stigma: To Disclose or Not? 
  • Who’s Missing? Making Sober Spaces More Accessible and Inclusive with Lazarus Letcher* 
  • College Drinking: Changing the Narrative with Khadi Oluwatoyin* 
  • Normalizing and Glamorizing Sobriety with Shea Gomez* 
  • Rock Bottom is Not a Pre-Requisite to Sobriety with Tawny Lara* 
  • The Power of Sober Curiosity with Kirstin Walker* 
  • #CommittingtoClarity with Elijah McKinnon* 
  • Nutrition and Sobriety: Simple Strategies to Support Your Body Through Food During Early Sobriety and Beyond 

Existing Programs & Ways to Learn More 

As always, HPW offers weekly peer-led workshops designed to help you learn more about alcohol and cannabis use and ways to practice harm reduction (these workshops are called CHOICES and can be found on our DeHUB page). We also have a Collegiate Recovery Community that meets weekly to support students who identify as being in any type of recovery (again, you can sign up on DeHUB or by emailing We also offer 1:1 sessions called BASICS, which provides you a space to assess your use and receive individualized feedback about your use (email to register).  

Please reach out with any questions or concerns, and we’d love to hear how these videos impact your understanding of college fun and inclusivity. And remember, Take Care of Yourself, Take Care of Each Other, Take Care DePaul.