Life as a teetotal student: The pros and cons of not drinking at Lancs uni

I’ll take a water, please


For most students here at Lancaster, drinking with friends will be a big part of their social life and it would be hard to imagine a life without skint Mondays or attempting to down the Fog Cutter at Mint.

But what about those people who decide that alcohol just isn’t for them? Despite many positives such as the blessed escape from hangovers, for students in particular, making the decision not to drink can produce a whole host of challenges. In our society where social drinking is such an ingrained cultural norm, sometimes being Teetotal can become a curse as well as a blessing.

We asked Lancaster students to share their experiences of not drinking at uni, what the positives and negatives were of being Teetotal and any advice they had for new students starting out who don’t drink on how to get by.

Positives include:

Watching your mates do silly stuff they won’t remember later and getting to tell them about it in the morning

We all know drunk people do crazy stuff, and when you're fully sober you appreciate the drunken antics all the more, and boy do you have some stories to tell them in the morning, plus some wonderful moments you've thoughtfully captured on camera for them.

Remembering all your nights out and creating lasting memories

When you're drunk, the night can pass in a blur and you might not remember half of it the next day. What's the point in the good times if you won't remember them? Sober people have the advantage of remembering the laughs and funny moments clearly, enjoying them for what they are and creating memories that will last.

Getting up the next day is piss easy, hangovers adieu!

We've all been there, you've got a nine am and you're cursing the existence of Skint Mondays. Meanwhile the sober person next door skips merrily out of bed to greet the day.

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It’s cheap as chips to go out

Especially in campus bars, non-alcoholic drinks come to nothing compared to a pint, you'll be amazed how much you save over the year. £1 for Lemonade? Nice.

You're in control of yourself, so there's no more awkward situations or ‘Oh God what did I do!’ moments

Never again will you be subjected to the embarrassment of waking up to find yourself on someone's Snapchat story in a catatonic state, or have to worry about who you'll try to flirt with while off your head.

You have balance! No more nasty scrapes and falls

We all know staying upright while drunk can be a struggle, but when you're sober, navigating the steps in Generation becomes surprisingly easy! No more mysterious bruises!

You’re high on the happiness not the booze

Sometimes being the sober one can lead to some lovely moments of reflection, when you're laughing with your friends and are able to appreciate that right here, right now, these are the good times, enjoy it while you can, this is what life is all about. You can properly experience and enjoy the moment, the good times are really good.

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Ok, now for the negatives:

No funny night-out stories

Although we all hate to make a fool of ourselves, once you've got over the initial embarrassment, sometimes those drunken videos can be priceless, and you have a story to tell when someone asks! When you're sober, these moments are few and far between and often you're stuck telling other people's stories.

Dealing with drunk people when sober can be hard

The pushy drunk, the happy drunk, the loud drunk, you've dealt with them all. From unwanted approaches to unintelligible speech, sometimes being the only one in their right mind isn't easy!

People doubting you and saying you will drink eventually can make you doubt yourself

"Yeah, I don't really drink", "Ah, see you say that now, you'll probably be an alcoholic by the time you finish uni!" Ha… ha ha… Oh how you love assumptions about you from someone you barely know!

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Pulling someone who's a bit drunk when you're sober is tricky

Trying to pull while sober is awkward enough as it is, but it becomes even more difficult with the added sense of responsibility. No decent person wants to take advantage, so you have to assess whether it's okay to pull that drunk person or not. Consent is key!

The peer pressure from others to drink

'Go on, just try a little bit'. This is hard, simple as that. Staying sober is not for the weak hearted.

Always having to be the responsible one/designated driver

Often people can be inconsiderate and neglect to take responsibility for themselves if they know there's someone not drinking who will do it for them out of common decency, you can't help wishing it wasn't always left to you to get everyone back safely.

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It can be harder to make friends or socialise

When the social life of the majority of students involves drinking, it can sometimes be hard to connect with people or join in activities with your friends in the same way

You might not enjoy the night as much sober

Sometimes, when everyone around you is drunk, there is little intelligent conversation to be had, you're bored of the music and it's a waiting game until you can convince someone to go home with you

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If you're deciding to really commit to dry jan, here's some tips: When struggling have some sugar, fizzy drinks can be good for hyping you up. If you like the taste of alcohol but not getting drunk, Heineken O and other non-alcoholic beers can be a good substitute and people often won’t notice.

There are likeminded people in Lancaster, there’s plenty out there who know drinking isn’t the be all and end all. Find them! They're probably sitting at pres waiting for someone else to say they're not drinking! Open a conversation and don't feel too pressured to fit in.

Look for bars, pubs or clubs that have music you enjoy and ask your friends to go there, then at least you can enjoy that aspect of the night. Go with the flow and don’t worry too much, real friends will understand and respect your decision.