The Daily Mail published a stunning exposé on September 17 sure to turn the stomachs of every parent who now has a first-year student at University. The article shows the true horrors of the university drinking culture – from turning young people into alcoholics to promoting reckless sexual behaviours. The excessive drinking that goes on at universities across the UK is a problem that needs to be dealt with.
The Daily Mail piece focused primarily on two young students – one who eventually dropped out and another who managed to graduate despite being an alcohol abuser. We recommend you read the piece if you are a parent with university students, or you are planning to enter university next year. It is a real eye-opener.
Without going into all of the details of the Daily Mail piece, there are a couple of points that bear discussion. First and foremost is the realisation by both profiled students that they were completely unprepared for the drinking culture when they arrived. Sure, they had heard stories like all of us have. However, they had no idea they would find drinking permeates nearly everything done on campus.
One of the students told the Daily Mail that she was not drinking to escape any problems. She drank because everyone else was doing it. For her, it was a matter of being accepted among her peers. According to Drinkaware and the National Union Students, this young lady’s perceptions are not unique. A joint survey commissioned by both organisations shows that 20% of university students report drinking because of peer pressure. Furthermore, many of the students between the ages of 18 and 24 believe it is socially unacceptable to refuse drink.
The other student in the Daily Mail piece admitting having as many as 50 one night sexual encounters because, as she put it, she was ‘too drunk to care’. Nevertheless, her estimate only takes into account those she remembers. She also assumes there were times when sexual predators took advantage of her inability to consent or even to remember. She now says it is amazing that she never got pregnant or contracted a sexually transmitted disease.
Indeed, statistics show that lax attitudes about alcohol lead to lax attitudes about sexual promiscuity. The two go hand-in-hand naturally. When people are drunk, regardless of gender, their normal inhibitions seem to fade away. They are much more likely to do whatever feels good in the moment. Moreover, where young people are concerned, raging hormones frequently lead to promiscuity.
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We are happy to report that both ladies featured in the Daily Mail piece have recovered from alcoholism. However, they still bear the scars of their horrifying days in university. Those scars are not likely to ever go away. Having it all to do over again, the two students would have made a more concerted effort to stay away from drinking.
Addiction Helper urges you to take a stand against alcohol in university. If you are a student, we urge you not to believe the lie that refusing drink is socially unacceptable. Any friend willing to abandon you because you choose not to drink is no friend at all. A true friend cares enough about your health and well-being to respect your choice to not drink.
If you already find yourself immersed in the university drinking culture, we urge you to stop now and get help. You can call our recovery helpline 24 hours a day, any day of the week, for free advice and treatment referrals. You do not have to throw your life away to drink. Inform yourself about children and students with addictions in our student addiction guide.