Toxic drinking culture in Nottingham is a problem and here’s why

Let’s stop glorifying alcohol

University is meant to be a time where students gain their independence, having often moved away from home for the first time. However, the pictures of diligent students shown in the prospectus do not show the other side of Nottingham – the toxic drinking culture and constant nights out.

When you move to uni, everyone assumes that you drink and it goes hand in hand with the reputation of uni students. It is almost an expectation that you’ll drink and it is a way to prove your worth, with drinking competitions being a standard part of uni culture. Even looking at sports socials and societies, they often involve heavy drinking. But why is this the case?

Asking why

When I first moved to university two years ago, I made the decision to not drink for the year. This wasn’t for religious reasons, it wasn’t because I was not allowed and it wasn’t for medical reasons, I simply just didn’t want to. I remember one girl quite literally rolling her eyes because I said I didn’t want to.

One of the first questions people ask you in Freshers’ Week is what you like to drink. While this question has absolutely nothing to do with whether you will get on with a person, it is still always something you’ll get judged on. Letting people know that you don’t drink opens the door to multiple (often unwanted) questions about why you don’t when you definitely do not need to justify it to others.

Notts Culture

Nottingham is known for its nights out, students from other universities travel to Nottingham specifically for a night out and it is rare you will see anyone sober, especially on a student night.

The price of alcohol in clubs in Nottingham supports the drinking culture in itself. My friends at other unis are shocked by the offers on shots and drinks in Nottingham, as it is just so cheap.

Applauding consumption

While this is more of a country-wide problem rather than a Notts specific one, being able to handle your alcohol is applauded when it should just be the standard that you drink how much you can handle and are comfortable with. If you’re taller, you can scientifically drink more alcohol with less effect, and a guy can usually drink more than a girl – this does not make them a “lightweight” and they don’t “need to build tolerance”.

However, it will often be the case that people who can naturally drink less will be encouraged to drink more which leads to overconsumption which is then applauded. “You were so drunk last night” is always something people laugh at and it’s often the case that people go out specifically to get drunk.

Being told that you’re “fun on a night out” is not a great compliment. The implication is that you are only fun if either you have had a drink or if your friend is drinking. Perhaps a better statement would be “last night was fun” or just simply “you’re really fun”. It’s not all about the night out and the drinking.

Compared to the Nation

According to Natwest’s Student Living Index published in 2022, students in Nottingham spend £69.80 on alcohol every month on average, coming third only to Liverpool and Exeter. However, the national average sits at £43.30, nearly 40 per cent less than the Nottingham average.

However, Notts students spend £48.60 on a night out on average – much closer to the national average of £44.70. Though, as the alcohol spend is much higher than the going out spend for Notts students, they are purchasing alcohol outside of a night out, whether this is for pres, afters, house parties, or something else entirely

With the current cost of living crisis, students are having to watch their finances much more closely and alcohol is something that costs a lot of money while being very bad for you. This being said, the negative view of not drinking is enough for many students to continue buying.

Is it time for change?

Maybe it is about time we begin to reevaluate our alcohol consumption in general. We are all well aware of the negative health impacts of drinking, especially if you are drinking heavily every time you choose to. This isn’t to say never drink again but maybe consider when and why you’re drinking. Is it because you want to or is it because there is pressure to?

With January just around the corner, Dry Jan is a great chance to try and reduce the amount you are drinking or stop entirely, if only for the month. Your wallet will thank you and so will your liver!

Related articles recommended by the author:

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Eight frustrating things only Notts students would understand