Alcohol is a huge aspect of British culture, particularly for young adults at university. As students, we are all aware that is completely acceptable, even normal, to get blackout drunk multiple times a week and probably finish the night falling in your own vomit, at least for the amateurs still out there. Whilst such a lifestyle provides endless entertainment and memories you may or may not remember the next morning, perhaps it is time to consider whether the binge-drinking culture at university may be more sinister than first appears.
Recent studies suggest that the number of young adults who drink alcohol has fallen in recent years, possibly due to the rise in health trends including ‘clean eating’. However, despite this, government research shows that young drinkers, aged 16-24 years, are more likely to binge-drink than any other age group. Over one-third of such drinkers reported binge-drinking on heavy drinking days during 2016, compared with around one-tenth of drinkers over the age of 65.
It is not surprising that young adults tend to binge-drink far more than older adults, with clubbing culture encouraging more extreme levels of drunkenness compared with the social norms older generations experienced. However, the health risks of frequently drinking such large amounts of alcohol are worrying; long-lasting side effects include brain damage, liver disease, strokes, cancer, and infertility.
It is obvious, therefore, that alcohol is dangerous when frequently consumed in vast quantities, which then begs the question, why do we continue to binge-drink? University culture undoubtedly encourages heavy drinking with cheap drinks at clubs, never mind the whole concept of drinking games at pre-drinks which seem to exist primarily to force disgusting concoctions down our throats. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing alcohol at all; my friends can, unfortunately, vouch for my frequent over-indulgence in a certain Sainsbury’s Basics vodka. Instead of swearing off alcohol, which I am sure will prove unrealistic in the long-run, I have begun to measure how much alcohol I am consuming per week. This has helped me to cut down and recognise when I have had enough to drink, and I urge everyone to do the same.
Not only will staying aware of how much you’re drinking improve our health in the long-term but will also ensure we actually remember nights out rather than relying on our friends’ equally unreliable memories to try to piece an evening back together.