Drinking culture at uni

(92 Posts)
seasidequayside Tue 01-Oct-19 12:55:35

I know this has been discussed before, but my impression from dd and others who have started at various universities this year & a few last year, is that they are all saying that drinking among students is off the scale. Apparently there are events for non-drinkers, so I'm not really asking about how quieter kids will fare at uni, more about the ones who do want to drink and party, but are under pressure to drink a lot more than is safe or than they might want to.

I'd heard of pre-drinks, but I'd imagined students sitting around chatting and maybe having 3 or 4 drinks before going out, to save money on expensive club drinks. What I'm hearing from dd and others is that students are drinking vodka shots before going out, sometimes 6-8 shots in a short space of time, and in some cases even double that, which already sounds like the kind of level of drinking that could actually be lethal, but then they might be drinking more at a bar or club later on.

Of the students and their parents I know, these are all dcs who have been drinking and partying and learning from experience for the last couple of years and have also had safety & health conversations with parents - so they are not innocent kids going wild for the first time in their lives and not aware of the effects of alcohol.

I'm worried that there is a lot of pressure to drink to unsafe levels and no 'normal' levels of drinking. I think it would be incredibly hard to be an 18 year old living away from home for the first time sitting in a flat kitchen with a bunch of people you are desperately trying to be friends with, and not to just say 'yes' when you know you're beyond your limit. It seems to be the norm to have 10+ drinks per night out, which is dangerous, isn't it - for mental and physical health, safety, bank balance? Or am I just being naive and unrealistic?

OP’s posts: |
BubblesBuddy Tue 01-Oct-19 16:24:06

I’m afraid you are and if depends on the university. My DD didn’t have any friends who were drunk all the time. She wasn’t quiet by any means but not an excessive drinker. Like the vast majority!

I don’t think you can Police the other students. They will mostly settle down. They are drinking more than at home unless parents cope with puking up every night! How did they ever do A levels? Of course it’s not healthy but you cannot do anything about it.

There will always be a tiny minority who continue to drink too much but this mirrors society, doesn’t it? A tiny minority are not perfect and plenty of adults drink too much. Some don’t moderate behaviour and some will gamble, take drugs, never get a decent job or even be economically productive. Some might end up in prison and some might be terrorists in the making. You cannot control any of that. All you can do is advise and support your DS. That’s what we a try and do.

BubblesBuddy Tue 01-Oct-19 16:26:41

Is there not a drinking culture among young people not at university? Why is it brighter DC are not supposed to do this? Plenty of town centres don’t have university drinkers at all but are still bursting at the seams with drinkers.

Miljah Tue 01-Oct-19 16:30:17

The overwhelmingly largest numbers of these students manage to get through the phase unscathed apart from some memorably hangovers.

Once they've left home to go to uni, you must just hope and believe that your good influence over them, growing up, has taught them enough self-control and self-belief to be able to resist 'peer pressure' and to not get hammered. Are they really 'desperate' to make friends, thus will do stupid things towards that aim?

You must have some confidence in their judgement! And, sadly, there's not much you can do about it.

It settles down pretty quickly, by and large.

leckford Tue 01-Oct-19 16:32:08

You have only just discovered this? I thought the whole drinking culture was part of the point of going to university, and get away from parents. If they are over 18 there is not much you can do except give them less money

sniffsneeze Tue 01-Oct-19 16:45:23

Massive drug culture as well.

Needmoresleep Tue 01-Oct-19 17:23:17

I agree with sniffsneeze. Drugs were the shocker.

Drink did not seem to be a problem outside the Athletic Union, at either of DCs Universities. Though the jocks more than made up for the rest.


Miljah Tue 01-Oct-19 17:27:18

Your kids must move in different circles to mine! grin

I think a couple of joints appears to have been the sum of it for them!! I don't think it's 'massive' at all.

TheCanterburyWhales Tue 01-Oct-19 17:32:41

It isn't just students, it's young adults in general. Walk through any middle sized town/city and look.
We always got drunk at the house before going out- it wasn't so much the cost, as liking the feeling of already being pissed when we got to wherever it was.
I've had good jobs since I was 22 and apart from a glass of wine at Christmas, I'm teetotal.

GaudyNight Tue 01-Oct-19 17:36:03

Actually, more students don't drink alcohol at all than ever before. This is an NUS survey on student alcohol consumption/patterns/attitudes to from 2018:


ScreamingValenta Tue 01-Oct-19 17:38:37

I thought young people generally were drinking less these days.


pontiouspilates Tue 01-Oct-19 17:40:53

I'm in my late 40s and the excessive drinking was alive and well when I was a student, as was weed, speed and other Class A's. We all seem to have got through it unscathed. If anything, my kids are way more sensible than I was at their age.

corythatwas Tue 01-Oct-19 18:32:50

I suspect that the truth is that excessive drinking, in some quarters, has been around for an awful long time (and ditto weed and cocaine); it's just that when it's your own children who might be at risk, the awareness suddenly hits you.

Yes, it is bad for you. Yes, it is a silly idea. But these are young adults: university staff can't actually follow them around town- and perhaps even into private accommodation- to see what they are getting up to What will keep them safe will have to be what they have learnt from you re resisting peer pressure and their own common sense.

And tbh, peer pressure is very similar for those young people (at least half the population) who do not go to university. It's just that we tend to think of young people out at work as somehow more grownup than their contemporaries,

Kuponut Tue 01-Oct-19 18:42:49

Was listening to a few of the 18 year olds on my course today really having a massive whine about the inconsiderate flatmate who doesn't want to go out partying every night. Quite how long they're going to have the free time and student loan to keep it up (I'm doing a course notorious for heavy workload) remains to be seen but certainly for where I am - alcohol still seems to be a huge focus (not for me - I go in, do the content and get off home!)

seasidequayside Tue 01-Oct-19 21:03:58

I don't even want to think about drugs. I must lead quite a sheltered life that this is so shocking to me - though talking to parents of my dd's friends, they seem to think the same way. The non-student young people I know don't drink this much, but they are all living with parents, which I suppose reins them in somewhat.

I think the last time I was drunk was over 20 years ago, and I can't remember ever drinking more than 7 or 8 units in one session, so probably my perspective is unrealistic. It just worries me - not just for my own dc, but for students in general, if they are doing something that could be hugely damaging. I wonder if things like the high levels of mental health problems among students has any relationship to the levels of drinking, because alcohol is a depressant I think? But also it could be stress and mental health issues that lead to drinking...

I do find it hard to believe that alcohol consumption is going down, but I suppose we each see only a small snapshot of society. I hope Bubbles is right, that there is a minority who do stupid things to excess, while most will just grow up and get on with normal life.

OP’s posts: |
HostessTrolley Tue 01-Oct-19 21:21:08

It’s still freshers at many unis - my d only moved in this weekend. From the experiences of my older sons they all go a bit mad for freshers then it settles down - partly because they realise how much money they have left for the term, partly because they start getting into their subject. The ones that carry on drinking at freshers level often dont see the term out

Babdoc Tue 01-Oct-19 21:31:16

OP, some uni’s are ripping out bars and converting them to coffee places. Apparently the current generation of young people are much more health conscious, and prefer to drink fruit smoothies and herbal teas! There are also more Muslim students, who prefer non alcoholic venues for socialising on campus. I would applaud the trend, but sadly it does not apply to the use of drugs, which has become more complex and widespread with the development of “ legal highs”, nitrous oxide, etc as well as much more potent and toxic synthetic opioids, and psychosis-inducing strong forms of cannabis, which bear little resemblance to the mild “weed” of the 1960’s.

tommyshaircut Tue 01-Oct-19 21:56:37

I was at uni mid 90's and the drinking was mental, lots of 50p a pint/free shots type nights. My ds is a fresher and seems a lot more sensible than I ever was. (Remembers going out wearing just underwear in November for rag week).

GCAcademic Tue 01-Oct-19 22:02:55

My experience from working in a university is that students drink rather less than my generation did when we were at university, but that drug use is far more prevalent.

Oblomov19 Tue 01-Oct-19 22:04:47

I'm surprised you are shocked. Surely you know all this? It's everywhere. And has been well known for years.

And yes many youngsters are drinking less. But many are still drinking lots.

I'm just not sure what you expected. I'm sure your dd has enough 'bottle' to find a group of friends with values similar to her own?

GCAcademic Tue 01-Oct-19 22:05:23

OP, some uni’s are ripping out bars and converting them to coffee places

Yes, this is true. DH was just saying that this has happened where he works.

DontBuyANewMumCashmere Tue 01-Oct-19 22:09:12

Oh I was a massive drinker at uni. I also joined a women's rugby team which, apart from being the making of me, led me to drink waaaaaaaay more than I should have.
But we all stuck together, made sure everyone got home safely, and for the vast majority of us we all came out the other side unscathed and with surprisingly good degrees.

It is a bit of youthful madness and people soon realise their limits and learn to say no.
People are generally self limiting - I never touched more hard-core stuff apart from one attempt at a spliff. Totally wasn't my thing.

Serin Tue 01-Oct-19 22:22:12

I actually think it's not as bad as when I went to uni (Liverpool) in the late 80s. God it was carnage!
My DC are quite into healthy living and partly chose unis because of the outdoor lifestyles.
They are as likely to hit the green tea as vodka. I've advised them to stick to beer and spritzers and I'm as confident as I can be that they wont do drugs. Random drug tests are a distinct possibility for 2 of them.
The rise of international students is also a sobering influence.

BubblesBuddy Tue 01-Oct-19 23:51:44

To be fair, clubs are closing and what “parties” are on every single night for a year where students are pressurised to attend? Where? Drinks in flats and local pubs and clubs tend to happen in freshers week as they are discovered, but it drops off to the “student night” (Mondays) and forays out on Fridays and Saturdays. Pre loading is what drinking society does now because it’s cheaper!

Loads of drinking used to go on after sports matches. The ones who are the fittest often appear to drink the most! Although I think even that’s on the way out and vegans are rarely alcoholics. Cheap drinks in the SU were partly to blame too. The universities like the income too much. Getting income from coffee shops seems more sensible.

The best way to prepare for post 18 work or study is to try and ensure your DC is open to making friends but knows their own mind and can say they don’t fancy a drink tonight. Yes the others will moan if they never join in but the non joining in student just has to weather that. They have made the decision not to join in. It’s possibly better to go along a reasonable number of times, on their terms, and regulate intake. In freshers week there are pressures to join in but I thought most universities had dropped the continuous clubbing and drinking games for freshers week(s).

Also don’t students like to shock parents with drunken tales, drugs and general debauchery!? Perhaps it’s all a bit mundane and they are spicing up the stories for an audience agog for horror!?

Ginfordinner Wed 02-Oct-19 12:26:20

DD's ex boyfriend and his flatmates would regularly drink 10 shots before going out clubbing. Some of his flatmates were really stupid about drugs. The ex didn't do too well in his end of year exams given that he missed most of his morning lectures and seminars.

I think one of the reasons that the student bars are closing is that pre-drinks are a massive thing these days so the students not drinking there aren't drinking less, they are drinking in their flats before they go out. Sadly, drugs are massive as well.

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