Is your drinking becoming a problem?
Nobody is alcoholic at 18, right? Heavy drinking at uni is just ‘what we do’ – isn’t it? As a student living in student accommodation, you’ll most likely be a drinker. Obviously, some do refrain, but a big (unofficial) part of being a student is engaging in social activities, many of which do involve alcohol.
Now, I don’t mean to demonise alcohol. For many people, it’s a substance which can be enjoyed on a semi regular basis, to add to an all-round fun night or experience. But to some, it’s more complex than that, and perhaps it’s no wonder why. Right from the start of uni, the average fresher’s week expects young people to drink and drink until they can’t drink any more – or until they vomit, pass out, or do something utterly embarrassing. Whilst this is arguably a rite of passage, there’s absolutely no defence to say that this is in any way healthy. Such behaviour sets the tone for the rest of the duration at university.
Would it worry you if you went to a club sober? If so, perhaps you need to look at building on your confidence – there are plenty of ways to have fun without drinking, even around others who are. Lots of young people have these habits under control, but lots more potentially only think that they do. If you can walk away from this stage of your life having not suffered any consequences, good for you. But when do you reach the point where you have to calm down? Is this something you are able to do? Often, the worst part is denial.
One of the tests used to identify problem drinking – either abuse or full blown alcoholism – by medical professionals is a series of questions, some of which are about units consumed, whilst others delve deeper and ask if alcohol has caused the person answering to have regrets or do things which caused them problems they wouldn’t ordinarily have. When I was in university, it seemed hilarious to be classed as a ‘problem drinker’ at the time (it was fresher’s week!), but put that into any other context, and you have some issues. If a middle aged mother answered the way we did, she’d have been shipped off to rehab. And yes, sure, we were only responsible for ourselves, but it’s still a slippery slope to be on. Apparently, if alcohol was new on the market today, it would be a Class A drug. Just what are we feeding our bodies?! Alcohol consumption can make us more susceptible to loads of things, from diseases to emotional breakdowns, relationship struggles and difficulties in class or at work. It also sadly makes us more vulnerable, and whilst attacks are still never our fault, alcohol can impair both our judgement and reactions.
In the UK, it’s getting to the point where we really have to take a look at and assess our drinking culture. Why are we normalising and perpetuating attitudes to drinking which encourage health issues, both mentally and physically, for many years to come?
I’m not saying you need to give up. It’s your choice, at the end of the day. But looking back, I think a lot of us could have saved ourselves some hassle if we’d have been a little more careful. If you’re worried or want any more info, check out Drink Aware - it’s a great site with plenty of advice. Alternatively, you can always speak to someone in your student accommodation.
Posted on 21st July 2014 by Claire L.
Claire Louise Sheridan lives and works in Peterborough. She recently graduated with a degree in English and Communication Studies from the University of Liverpool.