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What can we learn from a teetotaller student?

Abstaining from alcohol is relatively atypical at university, but there are recent claims of student teetotaller numbers rising in the UK. One in five adults now don’t drink at all. We are constantly faced with a multiplicity of reasons why alcohol is bad for us, but no notice is taken and the attempts to scare us are swiftly ignored as we line up the next shot in that all important strive to fit in with the crowd. I feel there is an undoubted reason to question why we students feel the need to drink ourselves stupid.

We are baffled with speculation as to why young people aren’t drinking as much. Online forums and chat rooms such as the Student Room are now inundated with the same questions year in, year out, as soon-to-be freshers worry about fitting in without an interest in alcohol. Perhaps the realisation is kicking in as according to National Health Service statistics, the proportion of older teenagers and young adults who said they had ever drank alcohol fell from 71% to 48% from the early 1990’s to the late 2000’s.

Most would say that alcohol enhances the university experience, but a refreshing perspective of a non-drinker (teetotaller, whatever the labels), Emily Baines, about student life without alcohol, provides an outlook which may make you want to think twice and cut back.

“Personally I can’t stand the taste of alcohol, with the concept of being drunk not being appealing enough to drink it in spite of my dislike.”

On her stance on alcohol, she says “I think it’s within everyone’s right to drink whatever they like, it just isn’t my thing. It’s hilarious when I can remind them of everything they’ve done the next day!”

So what are the main positives, I ask. “Obviously I never have the stress of hangovers, however 9am labs can be strenuous on little sleep after a night out and 3 hours sleep. Going out also costs half the price meaning I can spend more money on things that are more important to me”.

As I questioning the enjoyment of a night out alcohol-free, she goes on to say “I enjoy myself on nights out just as much as the next person. I often seem to have more fun than my drunken counterparts as they can end up feeling ill or can somehow end up hurting themselves. I’m used to being the one who makes sure everyone’s ok, and it’s made life a lot easier for plenty of my friends and I”.

Perhaps Emily is right. Is the mammoth hangover and loss of dignity the morning after really worth it? At the end of the day being sick or thrown out of a club is no fun. Simply embracing the sociable environment, music and atmosphere should, in reality, be enough enjoyment without killing our liver in the process. Perhaps wasting years of precious youth on unmemorable nights and lazy days of recovery are overrated and a simply a fad.

All this contested I am left with many questions; should universities intervene to include those who are teetotal? Or must non-drinkers accommodate themselves? For me and many others, it’s about an individual’s right to involve yourself in certain situations. But, if anyone is thinking “I don’t drink- will Freshers’ week be dire, dull and friendless?” – the answer is a clear and definite no!


Edited by Amelia Bauer






First year International Media and Communications student at the University of Nottingham and Features writer for Her Campus! 
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