Now I enjoy several drinks as much as the next student, but how much is too much? With many uni events solely based on alcohol, I find myself sympathising with those who don't drink - there is very little left in uni culture if you don't 'down it, fresher'! I personally know people who just don't like drinking or simply can't for their own health, and I can't help but wonder if we should do more to combat our overly boozy culture.
In a 2010 study by Alcohol Research UK, 83% of students in the UK classified themselves as drinkers, which means only a mere 17% chose the sober way of life. So why do we students drink our own body weight in liquor, I hear you eagerly ask? I believe it boils down to a simple fear of missing out (or FOMO); when almost all social activities are based on drinking games and not being able to remember the night before, it's no wonder we are a generation of binge-drinkers and budding alcoholics. What's more striking is the way uni culture promotes this behaviour, as if harbouring a hangover on a Sunday morning is almost expected of you.
You're labelled as 'boring', 'no fun' and a 'killjoy' if you don't participate in Ring of Fire as opposed to your peers who can't go one day without drinking. In the real world, this would be a form of acute alcoholism, yet in university culture, it's acceptable. If you find yourself in the minority that doesn't drink, I would suggest immersing yourself in similar company; heck, there are even some societies that dedicate themselves to not drinking, you shouldn't be made to feel alien for not completely destroying your poor liver.
Throughout the ages, alcohol has always been used as the number one scapegoat for ill-judged actions. However it can also be used positively as a way to escape the stresses of everyday, relax and have fun, all with a glass in hand. Perhaps that's why most of us do it so much, so we can truly be ourselves without being judged because we have an excuse to fall back on if we do something no-one approves of (I dropped that burger on the floor on purpose, honestly). Either way, alcohol is no excuse for your actions - whether you can't remember anything the night before, or you act like a downright idiot (dancing alone on an empty dance-floor), you should just be yourself without the catalyst of alcohol, and if the people around you don't like it, then they're clearly not the right people for you.
I'm not saying you should abstain completely, but maybe the Italians are on the right lines with their culture of drinking with food rather than shotting with Sarah (or any friend of your choice). By all means get to the merry stage, but is it really fun when Sarah is holding your hair up while you're being sick in the grimiest club at three in the morning? Of course it is completely understandable when you're bogged down with hundreds of assignments while juggling a social life to have a drink (or seven), but before you know it you're being carried home on a stretcher (because every decent club has a spare stretcher going) and I don't know about you, but for me, that's not the way to end a night.
There is no shame in curling up with your favourite stuffed monkey (shout-out to Albi) while watching a bit of Benedict Cumberbatch in the evening. I don't know about you, but to me, that sounds like heaven on Earth. Even the hardest party animals need a break and unwind with a four hour Come Dine With Me marathon especially when you're watching sore losers. Even trips such as going to the theatre, or watching a movie makes a pleasant change and don't come with the added plus of a hangover the next morning.
Maybe it's different in other universities, but I feel like more of an effort should be made for sober socials. Don't get me wrong, I acknowledge the effort that is currently being made to combat this, such as the £90,000 spent on tackling initiation drinking, but I feel like this is an issue that should be more at the forefront for societies in general - especially those with a notorious reputation. Enjoyment is fine in moderation, as is not wanting to drink at all. However maybe Universities should do more to combat student alcoholism, or at least supply more supervision to tackle dangerous coercive drinking. I'm not putting my Gin + Lemonade down just yet, but I'm thinking about it.
My original post can be found here: http://thebroaduk.com/2016/01/09/boozy-britain-are-we-encouraging-alcoholism-in-our-youth/