Drinking Culture in the UK

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Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article are entirely the author’s own and are not attributable to Wessex Scene as a whole.

What’s the most British thing after a cup of tea and talking about the weather? It’s the pub. Happy? Go down the pub. Sad? Go down the pub. Bored with nothing to do? You guessed it, go to the pub. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with unwinding after a long day or having a debrief with your friends in Spoons, but the extent to which bars, clubs and partying are ingrained in our culture should be a worry. Do we have an underlying dependence on alcohol?

The first thing I noticed when I came to university as a fresher was that alcohol wasn’t so much an addition to a social activity: it was the social activity. Night after night there would be bar crawls, club nights and parties advertised, all emphasising on how cheap you get the drinks. Why do people like cheap drinks on a night out? Obviously it’s easier on the wallet but it also means you can afford multiple drinks. When these posters and promoters advertise cheap booze it isn’t designed to be a bargain: it’s to encourage students to buy more and consequently drink more.

Credit: Rachel Winter.
Credit: Rachel Winter.

This is reinforced with the fact that these drinks aren’t only cheaper, they’re also packaged in ‘2 for 1’ deals giving you more alcohol for the same knock-down price. Take Sobar, for example. Every Tuesday they have a promotional event involving a deal on a £2 drink called a Quad-vod, which is four shots of vodka. Their main selling point is getting four times the amount of vodka (amongst the strongest types of alcohol) at cheap prices.

Of course, we can’t completely blame the businesses as they are only supplying the existing demand, but what concerns me is the fact that they know the people they’re marketing towards must be 18 or 19 and have only just started to legally drink and go to clubs. This means that they aren’t as experienced as somebody in their mid-20’s – they’re not going to know their limits and somebody should be looking out for them and guiding them as opposed to making extreme amounts of alcohol so easily accessible.

This is why I find club promotion during Freshers to be irresponsible because they aren’t incorporating a ‘drink responsibly’ message or considering a student’s welfare: they just want to make sure they sell as many shots as possible.

However, what if you aren’t taken in by the adverts? What if you don’t feel like drinking and would rather stay at home? With alcohol apparently around every corner at university, those who don’t want to drink will be the minority, going against this “norm” that is being constantly reinforced to students through advertisements and the media in general. We are continually told through the films we watch and the music we listen to that we need to be drinking in a glamourous club to be having a good time.

As a direct result of this culture we have students feeling pressured into drinking not because they necessarily want to, but because they have to in order to fit in. The notion of “fitting in” is especially important to younger people and if we continue to let the media promote this message, we are doing them a disservice.

As we get older, reliance on alcohol becomes more long-term, ingrained and harder to break. Thus it is imperative that we start changing the drinking culture in university as a means to tackle the more harmful long-term issues.

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Politics Editor, meme lord, and an all-round busybody.

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