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Articles > Mental Health October, 10, 2018

The Pressures of Student Drinking Culture

Dene Field
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Alcohol – perhaps the most talked-about topic among students. It’s always in the air on campus, pre-, during and Post-Study; but what does its presence mean for those who don’t drink?

Alcohol has been a massive part of my life, and it will remain to be forever. In November 2009, I lost my Dad to Alcohol. An addiction that he didn’t realise drove him to depression and the decision to end his life. He left behind a wife, and 3 young children (12, 10 and 7) with me being the eldest.

After seeing the effects of alcohol from a young age, I made the decision not to drink. This is something I am open about; friends and family around me know and understand my choice, and it’s something that I would be comfortable to share with strangers if I had to.

Before starting University in 2015, not drinking was something I worried would negatively impact my university experience. Everyone my age talked non-stop about Alcohol – Freshers, Student Nights, Halls – it was always at the top of the list. I was worried I’d be excluded from events and seen as a bore… “what kind of student doesn’t drink ?” or “come on have a drink, it won’t do you any harm!” were some responses I expected.

This was not the case. As I was getting to know someone I would tell them the above, and the reaction turned out better than I expected… “I’m sorry to hear that” … “there’s nothing wrong with not drinking”. It was nice to know I’d still be accepted, but why did I ever feel the need to give an explanation?

“if you’re honest and open from the beginning, you’ll have nothing to worry about”

For me, this wasn’t a problem – I’m comfortable telling anyone, but for some, it may not be something they want to share, or they may just not have a reason. This hidden pressure of drinking is out there, but not often brought to the surface.

In September 2018, I’ll be off to a new University to start a new degree, so of course my worries are fresh on my mind again. However, this time around, I feel more comfortable and open, and I’m looking forward to getting started. If you’re in the same position as I am, don’t fret; if you’re honest and open from the beginning, you’ll have nothing to worry about.

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  1. Carys

    I think…that everyone should be respected and accepted for their decisions. Personally I would like to never consume alcohol in my life- I’ve seen what it does to people (and having nearly lost my uncle who I am very close to due to liver sclerosis) and I have been put off of the stuff totally.
    As well as this, people are often on medications these days which prohibit alcohol, and I do not think they should be targeted/picked on for having to abstain from drinking.

    It is my opinion that alcohol is not the be all and end all of life- I have lived in a tee-total family and we all live perfectly well without alcohol!

  2. Dene

    I have found this is not the case, I go out and enjoy clubbing and other events where people around me are drinking, no one can tell a sober person from a crowd, and no one is worried if you are sober as long as you’re enjoying yourself. I didn’t think going out clubbing etc was for me (because I dont drink), but I was wrong it’s a lot of fun, and you get to remember the whole night whereas others do not haha!

  3. T

    The worst part is that not drinking can really limit your social life. It would feel so awkward being the only one who’s sober in a room full of drunks, you know? That’s why I’ve never been out clubbing or gone to parties. What social activities are left where people don’t drink?