Living at University is hard. Moving away from home, becoming independent and making new friends all come with their challenges. So it’s hardly surprising that students like to let loose. Going out, and more importantly drinking, has become inextricably linked to what it means to be a student; it is a defining feature of student culture. But what happens when you don’t want to drink?
Unlike most students, I am in the minority that does not particularly enjoy getting drunk. Don’t get me wrong, I like a drink on occasion, but I don’t care for going out and getting smashed on a regular basis. I don’t like the concept of drinking for the sake of getting drunk, instead, I prefer to just have a couple, on special occasions. For me, the thought of spending a night out and not being able to remember a single thing that went on would cause absolute panic. I don’t understand nor do I take pleasure in getting to a state where I am no longer in control of my own body or my own mind. I’ve always been independent, so the thought that I would lose that is something I’m not willing to chance. I refuse to be labelled boring for having such opinions.
But it seems I am not alone. The number of young people that drink alcohol has decreased in recent years, and among 16-24-year-olds 72 percent of males and 84 percent of women said they go out to socialise as opposed to going out to get drunk, as surveyed by the Health Survey for England 2014/15.
It would appear that times are changing. No longer are students and young people as a whole concerned with the concept of heavy drinking, instead, we are a much more conscious generation with a much greater awareness of the dangers of alcohol and indeed narcotics. Partly to blame for this shift in attitudes is a change in role models. We have replaced the likes of Ozzy Ozbourne with newer and healthier role models such as the likes of Kylie Jenner and Joe Wicks. We are aware now more than ever that it serves us no benefit to abuse our bodies, and so choose to follow people that represent that way of life.
Long gone are the days when students used to hold Skins in the highest adoration, where we saw that classic scene of all the characters walking home, dripping wet from their big night out. Teens today understand that this is not reality, more so than we did ten years ago when this kind of behaviour was viewed as aspirational. The lines between fiction and reality have become much clearer in recent years, making it easier for teens to understand the real dangers of such abusive behaviour. It can come down to the simple concept that we no longer need to take something or drink something to have a good time. Society has evolved, particularly with the rise of social media making it easier for people to connect with one another. This shift has meant that we have discovered new ways to enjoy ourselves, and those ways don’t necessarily involve alcohol. Nowadays, you’re just as likely to find a student in a coffee shop than you are a nightclub, with nine out of ten students said that coffee shops were valuable to them as opposed to only seven out of ten saying the same about bars.
We are becoming a much more aware generation. With the rise in tuition fees, students are having to think harder than ever before about what to spend their money on, and it would appear that alcohol is slipping down the list, and I wouldn’t say that was a bad thing. Our education is becoming increasingly important to us, and this new awareness means that our priorities have shifted, and if that means ditching the bottle, then so be it.