Binge drinking and the walk of shame may sound too familiar to our generation: images of young people falling out of nightclubs, getting up to drunken antics and vomiting on roadsides do them no favours. Yet despite the uproar surrounding a 'drunken Britain', a quiet revolution appears to be simmering under the radar.
Robyn Buckley, 20, is part of a growing minority of young people about to commit their most rebellious act to date - teetotalism. Recent reports of a binge drinking society alongside worrying statistics on a growing trend termed drunkorexia, seem to ignore what I like to call the 'sober generation'. As shown by the likes of TV presenter Fearne Cotton, teetotalism has grown in celebrity culture over recent years and it seems that while a fair few students enjoy lapping up alcoholic beverages in student union bars, close at hand are those who prefer not to touch a drop.
Robyn, an English language and literature student from King's College London explains her decision to swap cocktails for mocktails. "Seeing the photos on Facebook of various friends collapsed in sinks or having their eyebrows shaved off due to too much drink haven't exactly helped," she said. "I'm quite proud to not drink alcohol just because everyone else does or just because it's a rite of passage. I really believe now that it's my choice and not anyone else's as to whether I drink or not."
The 2010 NHS annual survey of smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England showed an increase in the number of 11 to 15-year-olds that had never consumed alcohol. Just as Don Shenker, chief executive of Alcohol Concern noted, these statistics could reveal something about the changing attitudes of today's youth. If fewer people are drinking alcohol from a young age, then they are perhaps less likely to be drinking when they are older. If anything, this report should push for more research into the correlation between young people, alcohol and teetotalism, as currently, the number of young teetotallers in Britain remains unknown.
For Emma Usher, a graduate from London, being plunged into a dark, sweaty and noisy room of over-friendly dancing strangers was like a nightmare come true. "I've always found it strange that not wanting to drink is a less valid option than wanting to - there has to be a psychological reason for it, it can't simply be an opinion," she said. "I am a teetotaller, but I don't usually think of myself as one - I just happen not to drink."
So it appears that not all young bodies with young minds have a sense of immortality and indestructibility. Teetotalism is not only becoming a rebellion against what appears to be the norm, but a cautious intellectual and moral decision by young individuals who are self-disciplined and perhaps seek to lead a better lifestyle. If this sober generation continues to grow then this revolution will be far from quiet.
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