Genevieve Kotarska argues that as long as there are students there will always be pressure to drink.
I was recently informed by a doctor that I have to take a break from alcohol. I don’t drink more than the average university student, and I probably drink a lot less than some, yet a reaction to alcohol now means that I’m plunged into a life of second year sobriety.
I have never felt pressured to drink alcohol at university, but now that I can’t drink alcohol I realise that perhaps I was part of a wider scheme where students don’t even realise the pressure they’re under. The fact is that if you want to go out with friends, whether to clubs, pubs or house parties, or if you want to get involved with the social side of most sports, you expect (and are expected) to drink. Sports socials are pretty much out of the question if you don’t want to drink, house parties tend to be pretty mundane without that alcohol haze and the sweaty, sticky clamour of nightclubs is unappealing without the buzz of a few vodka cokes.
Although there are plenty of options for teetotal students during the day, if you find yourself stuck for something to do in the evenings there tends to be limited options that don’t involve alcohol. If your flatmates are going out you don’t want to be left out, but watching them drink themselves stupid isn’t usually as funny as it sounds and more often than not by 11PM you fancy a hot chocolate and bed more than watching your friend bolt another cider black.
This is where the problem seems to lie; alcohol creates an exclusive circle and if you don’t drink then that circle often seems impossibly hard to become a part of. I think most of the pressure people feel to drink isn’t the active shouts of “down it” but a passive air of exclusivity that means students who don’t want to drink will forever feel like they’re missing out.
Yes, the pressure at sports socials tends to be a lot more direct, but it is easy to simply not attend the socials and still get involved with the sport if you’re a sober student. It’s a lot harder to exclude yourself from your friendship group and a whole world of evening socialising, most of which will involve alcohol somewhere along the line.
It seems that as long as there are students there will be pressure to drink, and I’m sure that many other universities would find similar survey results as were found by Exeposé last week. I don’t think that pressure can ever be removed, but what can be done is the creation of more societies and events that don’t involve drinking. As for me, the alcohol bandwagon is calling, and in just over a month I can once again answer its cry.
Genevieve Kotarskabookmark me