Student drinking in the UK can be considered to be excessive in three main ways through the increase in alcohol-related hospital admissions alongside the effects of alcohol on an academic level as well as the financial implications associated with excessive drinking.
Binge drinking is not a new phenomenon and the term is often pinned down to students, who are stereotyped for drinking heavily. It can be seen university life is traditionally associated with alcohol, sex, and rock and roll? But is this necessarily the truth? Often in the news there is a lot of statistics released giving students a bad name, but how true is the media’s portrayal of students?
Statistics demonstrate an increase in alcohol-related hospital admissions of students. Statistics from the NHS information centre show that binge drinking among adults under 25 is of a particular concern with nearly 50,000 16-24 year olds admitted to hospital in England and Wales, 2007-8 owing to alcohol related causes. This would typically be the student age and due to the heavy financial burden on the NHS because of alcohol, one could see that student drinking is steadily becoming excessive. Perhaps these statistics are not taking into account of individual differences to alcohol and other influences such as health problems, which are further escalated through the consumption of alcohol. Nevertheless there is no denying that the excessive costs because of alcohol and this begs the question – are these costs justifiable? It can be see that one doesn’t have to drink themselves into oblivion in order to enjoy their night. Yet the typical student life often depicts drinking as a big part of university life. The first year in university is typically the “booze year!”
Nevertheless statistics highlight the social pressures, which lead to the excessive drinking. Thus perhaps this would demonstrate that it isn’t necessarily the drinking which is the issue, it is simply the consequence of a deeper problem. There has been research, which surveyed 2000 young adults and found that 16% of felt that asking for a glass of water in a pub or clue is socially unacceptable. Equally at the same time, almost a quarter, approximately 23% of 18-24 year olds believe that their friends will ridicule them for drinking a non-alcoholic drink on a night out. Thus these statistics highlight the implications of peer pressure, which could result in the excessive drinking. We have all been there, where you feel pressured into doing something and after all – what’s one shot of tequila? Yet this may escalate to more and more tequila and before you know it – you’re in trouble! Although, there are implications in the research itself, one could define the term “peer pressure” as an abstract concept, which is treated as a concrete thing. This is called reification, once this error has been made in the research this will subsequently lead to circular reasoning – where the only evidence for an explanation of some phenomenon is the phenomenon itself! In the alcohol research case, the only evidence for the peer pressure is the positive correlation between the excessive drinking and the student’s views on drinking, yet it was those correlations, which they were trying to prove in the first place!
Therefore – is the statistics out there a reliable source to demonstrate that student drinking is excessive?
There is no doubt that the alcohol intake may affect study commitments. Often if your hung over then how can you concentrate? There is often a perception of university life where the student simply rolls out of bed in the morning and goes to lectures completely hung over! Yet isn’t that apart of growing up to become a mature adult – realising you cannot achieve your full potential drunk! Perhaps this part of university life is simply a learning curve.
In all, drinking is nothing new. Students will probably continue to drink. They will most probably learn from their experiences. This might be the hard way, such as a criminal record or hospital visit etc. Yet this could happen to anyone of us and it seems utterly unfair to stereotype all students as excessive drinkers, which is often the media portrayal. It cannot be denied that there will always be exceptions – where students will drink themselves into oblivion and most probably drop of university. But there are those who will drink and have a good time yet they also embrace the academic life of university. One has to see student drinking as nothing more than a learning curve, which may come with exceptions – yet this is often a part of life!