Opinion: Toxic drinking culture is rife in Newcastle and it should be spoken about more

When trebs cost less than some trips on the metro, it’s hard to resist


I’m sure we’ve all seen many questionable scenes on a night out. People are sick, barely able to stand and have no light behind their eyes. Am I all of the above? Yes. I’ll bet on the three pence in my savings that anyone reading this has been too or will be in the future. But why are we like this in Newcastle?

The representation of Newcastle on TV

Before I came to Newcastle, most people I knew would tell me that it’s known for its nightlife and was definitely one of the reasons I chose to move here. However, the influence of Reality TV has definitely led to many people blacking out on a random Tuesday night – just for the plot x

The shows attract a fairly young audience from teens to adolescents. The drama and large bust-ups are viewed as humourous and are likely to influence those watching the show to emulate this lifestyle of heavy drinking and clubbing.

It’d be no surprise that students would rather spend their last tenner on a bottle of vodka (if you know, you know) than a small food shop for the necessities.

Cheap drinks – go on then

Living up North is already cheaper than the cost of living in most places, especially Newcastle. Whether it’s three for £9 trebs, £2.75 for a doubles and two trebs and a shot for just £9.95 – it seems too good to be true.

Most events marketed towards students involve going out and getting drunk, especially during Freshers’ Week. We’re told to make the most of uni, “it’s the best years of your life”, but when does this YOLO mentality go too far?

Pres, pres, pres

Especially in first-year, you probably can’t go a week without asking, “Where’s pres?” and “Who’s hosting?” To go out without feeling at least tipsy is completely unheard of. It’s normal to down a whole bottle before clubbing to settle our social anxiety around people we barely know or can’t stand unless we’re under the influence. As found by SOS, 51 per cent of students believe that drinking and getting drunk is a part of university culture.

We’re pressured to buy more drinks in the club in order to have a good time and properly enjoy ourselves. In Newcastle, being drunk is the norm any day of the week. It’s also been named one of the friendliest places in the UK, and what do we do with friends normally? Socialise and drink – they go hand in hand, like two peas in a pod.

Football culture – “Howay the lads”

Going to town or anywhere near St James’ park on matchday is similar to an apocalypse. Hundreds of people walking or stumbling around, groaning like Zombies after one too many. There’s a tradition to support your team by having a pre-match pint or two, or three, or four…

Thousands of people walk through town and see the fans, they either find them humorous or feel scared for their lives. I imagine growing up around this places a large emphasis on supporting your city and who can down a drink the fastest.

Uni stress

This doesn’t just go for uni, but at any point in life. Bad day at work? Glass of wine should do the job. Feeling a bit crap? Nothing a good cocktail can’t fix. Uni stress? Let’s get absolutely mortal. In all seriousness, it hits me every once in a while that I actually came here for a degree and not to get hammered most weekends.

So, what now?

I advise that to anyone feeling pressured to go out, do it to enjoy yourself and not for other people. Also, think about the potentially volatile hangover the next morning. Sadly, a Vitamin C capsule and glass of water can’t get rid of last night’s mistakes and horrible hangxiety – remember that.

If you have been affected by this story you can find help at Newcastle University Students’ Union website for more information on local services, as well as to receive a range of resources to help support your wellbeing. Or you can call Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Great Britain on 0800 9177 650 to find more information on self help groups that support abstinence from alcohol.

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