Rethinking drink

Is it time to face up to how much we drink?

Another day, another reported incident of drink spiking. Of course, it’s highly likely that the number of times drink spiking actually takes place is far greater than reported. Not only because far too often accusations of drink spiking are simply put down to people forgetting how much they’ve actually drunk, but because drink spiking doesn’t have to involve a combination of rohypnol and a sinister motive. If you buy your mate a pint and slip a shot of vodka in it, that’s drink spiking. You’re not going to be locked up for this little misdemeanour, but that doesn’t make it okay. In fact, a majority of the drink spiking that does occur, including those with malicious intent behind them, are done simply through adding more alcohol to drinks.

If I were to come out and chastise all drinkers for their habits, I would be quite the hypocrite, but I still do believe that students as a group really do need to re-evaluate the relationship they have with alcohol. You may have read on the beer mats placed around campus bars that the facts and figures concerning University of York students and alcohol are not that shocking. At least they don’t appear to be. ‘4 in 5 students never let their drinking get in the way of the academic work’ is emblazoned on one. An acceptable figure, until you turn those numbers around. If four in five are tucked up in bed the night before their 9:15 seminar, that means that there are one in five, or a rather large 20% who are downing shots in Rumours, even though they’ve got a half finished essay waiting at home for them. And it’s due in tomorrow. Sure, everyone turns their back on their responsibilities once in a while, but even if you’re lucky enough to be an arts student with few contact hours and a first year that doesn’t count towards your overall marks, you still need to pass the year, or you might find yourself politely asked to leave your degree.

There is no denying that alcohol plays an integral part in student life. It probably shouldn’t, but for most of us, this is the first time in our lives when we’ve been in a position to go out every night and drink our body weight in vodka, and really, who wants to waste an opportunity like that? But not everyone wants to drink, nor does everyone want to spend tomorrow morning (and probably tomorrow afternoon) regretting the night before. If, when it’s your round, your friend asks for an orange juice, it’s probably for the best if you respect that decision. Yes, it’s no fun drinking on your own, but hilarious alcohol based games never really turn out as planned. Plus, if you’re going to add a little extra to the drink of a friend whose decided that they’re already drunk enough, you might be the one cleaning up after his body decides to reject all that alcohol. And they tend not to let people into Toffs if they’ve got vomit on their shoes.

Drinking in moderation is fine. Drinking a little too much can also be the start of a very good evening, and I’m in no position to pass judgement on excessive drinking by any individual. But what needs to change is the way people respond to other people’s drinking habits. Some people can drink more than others. Some people might be able to drink just as much as you, but might just choose not to. And do you know what? That ought to be perfectly fine. Let other people make their own decisions when it comes to their own alcohol consumption. No good can come of anything else.

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