Hello lovely people,
It’s November, which means things are getting chilly, the nights are pulling in, Christmas adverts are coming too early and this week is Alcohol Awareness Week!
Drinking and going out partying for some is a big part of student culture and I’ve definitely done my fair share of it. So, I’m not going to tell you to stop because I understand that everyone’s relationship with alcohol is different, but this can come with risks in terms of what effects it can have on your body and mind. Here are some examples of alcohol's dark side:
- Alcohol is linked to over 60 medical conditions, such as diabetes, cancer and depression.
- Alcohol can interfere with the chemistry of our brain by reducing the amount of serotonin. Less serotonin in the brain makes us vulnerable to experiencing low mood - which is why alcohol is classed as a depressant.
- Alcoholic drinks are full of empty calories and sugar. A pint of cider can contain as many as 5 teaspoons of sugar - almost as much as the World Health Organisation recommends that you do not exceed per day.
- Drinking alcohol reduces sexual sensitivity
- Excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to aggressive behaviour
I know that all sounds rather scary, but you have to remember that alcohol is actually a drug, which means we should be responsible with how we consume it. Being at University provides the opportunity to drink away from the watchful eyes of parents or carers, which means a lot of students go a little wild with freedom. And I hate to sound like a buzzkill, but with freedom comes responsibility and taking care of yourself is your most important responsibility.
So, here are some tips on how to stay safe while drinking and how to cut down your intake:
- Use one of the many unit calculators found online to work out how many units are in whatever you’re drinking and moderate your drinking in line with recommended limits.
- Pace yourself - Enjoy your drink slowly and remember you don’t have to join in with every round.
- Try drinking low alcohol or alcohol-free drinks to cut down your unit intake.
- Have a few days off drinking every week to give your body a break.
- Eat before and during your drinking, this will slow down the alcohol being absorbed into your bloodstream.
- It’s okay to say no! Try not to let other people pressure you into drinking more than you want to. And if people are putting pressure on you, maybe you need to think about whether they are the type of people you want to be spending your time with.
- Ask for help if you need it - Struggling with alcohol is nothing to be ashamed of and many people struggle with it at some point in their lives.
A lot of the time I hear people say that they go out drinking a lot because there isn’t anything else to do, but I can tell you that’s not true. Here’s some things you could do with your friends other than going to the pub:
- Go for a walk.
- Play a video game or board game (there are always board games in the underground of the SU).
- Do something creative such as drawing, writing or make something - you can even do this outside if the weather is nice.
- Try out a new sport club or society - you can do this at any time of year, not just during freshers.
- Start up a book club or a film club with your friends - remember any student can book out a room in the SU, it’s not just for clubs and societies; just ask at reception!
- Try some cooking or baking, or you could even make some mocktails!
So, like I said, I’m not trying to be a downer and scare you all into never touching a drink again. But as it is Alcohol Awareness Week, maybe you should have a little think about your drinking habits and whether it’s time to start making some changes for the sake of your mind, body and bank account.
For more information about the effect of alcohol and how to cut down, alcoholchange.org.uk have loads of useful information on their website. Also, if you are struggling and feel like you need some help, then you can pop down to DDAS in town (25 North Parade, between Oxfam bookshop and G-one), where they offer drop-in services and support for people who are struggling with alcohol or substance use. Alternatively, as always you can get in contact with our SU Advice service and our advisor will try and help you with whatever problems you may be having.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this,
Lydia - Wellbeing Officer
P.S. In aid of Alcohol Awareness week I have suggested to club and society committees that they hold sober socials this week - so keep an eye out for those!