As a university student, how do you feel about excess alcohol consumption? For that matter, how do you feel about the free and discounted drink offers local establishments frequently offer to students? Does something need to be done about it, or is everything fine as is?

In 2006, Reading University pro-vice Chancellor Professor Tony Downes wrote a letter and sent it to the operators of local pubs and bars. The letter requested they stop giving away free alcohol or offering drink discounts to Reading students. He wrote, in part:

“If you wish to promote your venue to our students, this … must never involve the promotion and giving away of free or discounted alcohol. We want to foster responsible attitudes towards drink in our students – this is especially the case for our newly-arrived fresher students – and we would welcome your support.”

The letter was partly in response to student complaints of free alcohol being distributed in residence halls and some being disturbed by the loud noise and revelry of other students returning after late nights of drinking. As you may know, little has changed in the seven years since Downes wrote his letter.

A research report referenced by The Independent in 2013 showed that 96% of UK school heads believed their institutions were not doing enough to ensure the well-being of students in terms of their mental health, especially as it relates to heavy drinking. Another 90% said that schools were turning a blind eye to student drunkenness, while 80% said their schools were seriously lacking in any type of pastoral care capable of addressing the problem.

Consider Your Own Drinking Habits

Now that you know what administrators think about student drinking, we challenge you to consider your own drinking habits. If you are a regular binge drinker, you need to understand that you may already be on the road to eventual alcohol dependence. Repeated binge drinking dramatically increases the chances of alcoholism in later life. Furthermore, if you binge drink because you are being given free or discounted alcohol, consider the reasons bars and pubs might be doing what they do. Could they be purposely encouraging you to drink excessively so that you will buy more drink in the future?

Let’s be honest; running a bar or pub is a business. Moreover, as with any business, the local bar or pub gives away free samples or offers discounted drinks as a means of drumming up new business. In other words, they want you to drink. They want you to drink as much as you are willing to drink, because it puts money in their pockets. However, they will not be around when you eventually hit rock bottom. They will not be there to help you pick up the broken pieces of your life after it has been shattered by alcohol dependence.

So let us ask the question one more time: should anything be done about free and discounted drink offers for students? Here at Addiction Helper, we believe the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. Offering students free or discounted drinks is nothing short of inviting them to develop drinking problems during their university years. It seems to us as being both irresponsible and counterproductive to what the university environment is supposed to be.

We urge you, as a student, to cautiously limit your alcohol intake while in school. If you are already struggling with doing so, we want to help. Please call our 24-hour addiction recovery helpline for a free assessment of your alcohol consumption. If need be, we can help you locate alcohol recovery treatment.  Inform yourself about students and addiction problems from our student addiction guide.


  1. BBC 
  2. The Independent 
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