Substance Use In Law School


This is a post I wasn’t sure about writing. Everyone has their own personal preference, and I’m not in any position to tell people what is right or wrong for their own personal circumstances. This post is just about the substance use I’ve observed throughout 1L in general terms.

Caffeine: As a society we love caffeine. Coffee, tea, energy drinks, soda, even capsules, we can’t get enough. In law school, everyone is using caffeine all the time. A lot of people are self proclaimed “caffeine addicts” before law school, so it’s not particularly surprising that everyone always has a coffee or a Red Bull in their hands, but what did surprise me was developing an immunity to caffeine. I see classmates drinking Monster Energy Drinks in 8AM classes, and frankly, I get it. I have a Yeti thermos which holds an entire French press worth of coffee, and it does nothing except satisfy the taste craving. I can drink coffee while I’m studying at 9 or 10 and still fall asleep in a book. I see my classmates posting on social media about developing tolerances to caffeine. Yesterday I had 2 french presses worth of coffee, and a Red Bull, and I was still exhausted. The good news is that you can reset your tolerance level with caffeine, so I’ve been trying to avoid it since consuming it is more of a habit than a help at this point, and hopefully in time it will have an effect on me again.

Alcohol: Hopefully we all learned how to drink responsibly in college. However, when you spend all your time studying, you tend to lose your tolerance for alcohol, which surprised me. I used to be very good at holding my alcohol, and now I’m feeling woozy after one glass of wine. People go to the campus bar to celebrate after a project, or have some drinks at networking events, and are surprised by how suddenly they go from “professional socializing” to “no longer articulate.” My friend told me a story about how a week ago she had to carry home someone twice her size from the bar because he hadn’t realized he’d lost his tolerance, and at a networking event the other day one classmate was embarrassingly drunk. Be wary babes.

Tobacco: Everyone smokes here! I don’t know if it’s a new thing or if I just never realized it before. Personally, I have been a smoker for the past 2-3 years, and am in the process of quitting (going on a couple months!), but nicotine as a stress reliever is so common and so good at its job that it’s hard to quit, even when you know your teeth and lungs and skin and everything is being destroyed and your clothes and breath smell and it’s expensive. I was so surprised to see my classmates standing outside in groups after class. Even the people who “don’t smoke” can be seen smoking during finals or after a drink or two.

Marijuana: People have their own views on marijuana use, and that’s fine. If you love it, great, if you wouldn’t touch it, great, do you. However, since it’s legal where I am, I’m discussing it anyway, since it’s a realistic occurrence. As far as I can tell, there’s no real discernible difference in the performance of people who smoke marijuana and those who don’t when it comes to schoolwork. I mean don’t be the girl who comes to class 30 minutes late and high. And don’t be the guy standing outside the law school puffing away. But aside from that, if you’re using marijuana, do whatever works for you. There’s no real stigma about it (except in the previously mentioned scenarios) and maybe that’s due to the legal status where I am, but who knows. Like anything else, if it’s disrupting your daily life, please acknowledge and handle that. Everything in moderation.

Stimulants: I know I know. ADHD diagnosis epidemic and abuse of study drugs etc. Yup. I mean it’s true, what can I say. People take stimulants, a lot of my classmates are currently substituting them for caffeine since it no longer has an effect. It’s only really rampant around finals, but there are a few people who pop pills openly in class or are really relying on them to get through. If this is or becomes the case for you PLEASE reevaluate the necessity (do you need them or do you think you do?), and do a cost-benefit analysis.

Law school is a cool thing to say you conquered. But you know what’s really cool? Not needing low grade amphetamines to function on a day to day basis. Not making a fool of yourself because you tried to drink like an undergrad. Not being so baked you forget what time class starts. Self care above all, loves.


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