It’s no secret that we students regularly enjoy a drink or three, despite being aware of the damaging effects on our health. Being a student myself I know first hand that the aim of the game when hitting the tiles is to get as drunk as possible before heading out, and even more when you get to the club. But when did drinking to have fun become drinking to get drunk? -Sasha Wylie reports
Health officials and concerned parents advise us not to mix drinks or to drink on an empty stomach. They don’t realise it’s exactly what we’ll do if it means getting very drunk, very quickly. The aim of the game is to get messy – at any student pre-drinks there will be at least someone who says: “I want to get absolutely smashed tonight.”
The NekNominate craze that infiltrated our Facebooks is a prime example of peer pressure among students leading to excessive drinking. While it may be a minority who take it too far by guzzling bottles of spirits, thousands of likes and shares on Facebook of NekNominates validate and actively encourage this behaviour.
It’s worth asking why we students feel the need to drink so excessively. Being sick or thrown out of a club is no fun. And the mammoth hangover and loss of dignity the morning after just isn’t worth it. In an article below, student Claire Whittle, 25, got breast cancer due to her student binge drinking.
Like many teenagers away from home for the first time, student Claire Whittle threw herself enthusiastically into the heavy drinking university social scene. What happened next, she believes, should serve as a warning to all young women.
At the age of 25 she was diagnosed with breast cancer although there was no family history of the disease. And she is convinced that alcohol was to blame.
She says she has not touched alcohol since her diagnosis and is about to begin an MA at Middlesex University studying the effects of drugs and drink in society.
‘My oncologist actually said to me I mustn’t ever have another drink as it could raise the risk of my cancer returning,’ she says. ‘I only hope my story serves as a warning to any other young women who binge drink that it might be affecting your health in a way you might never have imagined.’
It’s true that we have fewer responsibilities as students, but we owe it to ourselves and our health to know where to draw the line.
Seven universities have signed up to a 12 month pilot scheme to encourage responsible drinking among students.
Loughborough, Nottingham, Manchester Met, Liverpool John Moores, Swansea, Brighton and Royal Holloway universities are hoping to gain accreditation under the NUS Alcohol Impact Scheme for their work in promoting responsible alcohol policy and practice. They will aim to reduce alcohol-fuelled crime and disorder and prevent health harms.
If you are concerned that alcohol consumption may be affecting your health, ring Drinkline on 0800 917 8282.