Partying and drinking- two concepts that have become synonymous with student life; two concepts which have also been latched on to by the media, much like an annoying terrier with a bone. It seems that you can’t so much as turn a page, click a link or change a channel without bleary eyed young people staggering about the place: but are we really that bad? Alcohol has played a central role in society since Ancient Egypt, and we’ve got along fine so far, right? Well, here at the Wessex Scene we launched a survey, to find out the truth behind our drinking habits…
1. Do you drink?
Unsurprisingly, 93% of you said that you do drink- a result affirmed by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse, who suggests that 4/5 students drink.
Almost half of you of you said that you drink 2-3 times a week, meaning by the NHS standards men should stick to 3 pints of beer a night, and women to two glasses of wine… even a Jesticle is pushing it! This could also potentially mean 3 hangovers- think of all those lectures missed!
3.Do you purposefully drink to get drunk?
This is a tricky question, as the issue of ‘purposefulness’ is not always clear-cut, and even less easy to own up to; but still 19% admitted to drinking in order to get drunk, with 59% saying they sometimes do. Most of us are well acquainted with the less glamorous side to alcohol, so it will be interesting to see why people intentionally get into that state! (see question 5)
4. Would you consider yourself a binge drinker?
The good news is only 32% classed yourself as a binge drinker, the bad news is- in reality the percentage is actually probably a lot higher. The National Office of Statistics’ definition for Binge Drinking is drinking more than double the daily unit guidelines for alcohol in one session- so guys that means 3 pints or more, and girls that’s two glasses of wine! However, the NHS does acknowledge the potential issues with this definition, providing an alternative one: “drinking lots of alcohol in a short space of time or drinking to get drunk or feel the effects of alcohol”… Cue everyone awkwardly looking at the ceiling and whistling. Whilst these definitions may not be 100% infallible, it is clear that many of us may be either in denial, or have a distorted view of the sheer quantity of alcohol we ingest.
5. For what purposes do you drink?
Moving on from that slightly depressing point, only 18.75% of you said you drink to forget, with the most common reasons including to have fun, and as a social lubricant . So on the whole, we are after some (relatively) innocent fun. Perhaps the problem (if it is in fact one) lies not in why we drink, but in knowing our limits, and paying respect to the dangerous side to alcohol.
6. Do you think you change when you have drunk alcohol?
Let’s refer to this as the Jekyll and Hyde question, as
a massive 64.95% of you admitted to changing after drinking.
Although the question doesn’t make the nature of this change clear, it is still a pretty shocking statistic that an overwhelming amount of us (mostly intentionally) drink with the knowledge that, on some level, we are sacrificing our personality and individuality.
7. Does drinking make you feel happier/have a better time?
The majority of you with 57.73% answered that it depends on other factors, with a close second of 37.11% confessing that this was the case. This question may provide some reasoning as to why so many students drink to the extents they do, although it does beg the question: Why can’t we have as much fun without the booze?
8.On the whole are your experiences with alcohol negative or positive?
Slightly worryingly, only 11.46% of our survey participants agree that their alcohol related experiences are always positive, with the majority saying that they are mostly positive. On the surface this seems reassuring, but not when you think about the sometimes negative experiences- what makes us drink so much under the knowledge it might end badly?
9.Do you often regret things you have done whilst drunk?
62.5% occasionally regret things when drunk, which in the face of public perception is not too scandalous, although exactly what these dark deeds include we may never hope to (or want to) know…
10. Do hangovers often impede your daily activities? (e.g. skipping lectures…)
Interestingly, 47.37% said that hangovers only occasionally hinder their daily activities, whilst close behind 38.95% say they never do. Whilst reassuring, it seems that even this may be enough to have a significant impact in everyday life, as the NIH reports in one study, 25% of students reported academic consequences of their drinking, and more than 150,000 developed an alcohol related health problem.
Overall the survey has succeeded in raising a lot of new questions, but generally results were as expected: most survey participants drink regularly, but mostly with harmless intentions and avoiding major disaster. Comparing our results with official data on the other hand, suggests a slight incongruence between our perceptions and the reality of risks. A student culture without drinking is unimaginable, but turning our attentions to changing our outlook on alcoholism will help us to better understand the risks we willingly and regularly subject ourselves to.
Imagery: Adam Carey
Thanks to drinkaware.co.uk, the NHS and niaaa.nih.gov for statistics and advice.