Dry January and Drinking Less at University   

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Drinking alcohol at university has become one of the most popular activities to do after a day of studying and it can be very difficult to avoid. Even from the beginning of university, you are bombarded with information about fresher’s week and popular events in the local town. Going out and socializing is a great way to make friends, especially at university. However, excessive drinking throughout university is something that can and should be avoided. If drinking is something you want to do less of, this blog will take you through tips and tricks on how to drink less throughout the pressures of drinking at university. 

Dry January 

Going alcohol-free throughout January is a great excuse and a great way of trying a month without drinking. It is estimated that 53% of students will drink on a weekly basis, so going 4 weeks could be tough but it can be extremely rewarding (Spectator, T. 2023). Carrying out dry January will not only help kickstart a healthier lifestyle but will bring out physical and mental benefits that you might not even realize you need. You will be able to focus on your studies, spend time with friends in different ways and make more time for yourself. On a plus note, you will avoid all those horrible hangovers and money debt on drinks you can’t even remember buying! 

The pressures of drinking 

There’s a lot of pressure surrounding drinking at university. It’s been researched that 81% of students regard drinking and getting drunk as part of the university experience (Spectator, T. 2023).  However, if drinking alcohol turns out not to be something you like, or it’s something you want to cut down on, one of the difficult parts can be communicating this to others. Especially friends who may have expectations for you to continue to drink alcohol, if you previously have before.   

You have every right to change your mind when it comes to drinking, from drinking less or stopping altogether. There will also be lots of people out there who feel the same way. Here are some ways to deal with the pressures of not drinking from others: 

  • Explain your reasoning confidentially- being open about your reasons for not drinking can help others understand and respect your decision to not drink. 
  • Offer alternatives to drinking- suggest different activities that you and your friends would enjoy. 
  • Highlight positive changes- tell your friends the benefits of not drinking/ drinking less. They may even be influenced by you. 
  • Offer to drive- if you can drive this can be a great way of telling others you’re not drinking.  

Challenging conversations with friends 

It is important to understand that no one should make you feel pressured to drink alcohol. If this is happening, you should speak to your friends about your boundaries and explain why you choose not to drink alcohol. If they continue, you should think about changing friend groups or reaching out for some guidance from family, or our university team. However, if you clearly state your reasons for not drinking to friends, they should respect your choice and plan accordingly to your decision. However, drinking should not change anything, you can still go out and socialize with friends without the consumption of alcohol.  

Other activities to do with friends 

There are many other activities that don’t involve drinking and getting drunk with friends. You can make these suggestions to your friends and see what they think! Here are some examples: 

  • Bowling 
  • Pottery Painting 
  • Movie nights 
  • Gym session 
  • Walk/ run 
  • Go to the cinema 
  • Game nights 
  • Video game sessions 
  • DIY crafting/ home decor projects 
  • Cooking/ baking with friends 
  • Host a dinner party 
  • Host a mocktail making night 
  • Book a theatre production 
  • Live music concert 
  • Explore a local museum  

The benefits of not drinking alcohol 

There are many positives to not drinking alcohol, despite how many people choose to drink it. Not consuming alcohol will improve your daily routine, mindset, bodily functions, and your overall happiness. It improves sleep, enhances mood, and has many health benefits. Giving your liver and other organs time away from alcohol leads to many health benefits, including improved liver function and reduction in inflammation. Alcohol can cause excessive weight gain and inflammation, so you will end up looking and feeling healthier too. Additionally, there’s the money-saving benefit of not drinking. Alcohol is extremely expensive, even more so in clubs and bars. So, sticking to soft drinks or mocktails can provide a cheaper alternative and your savings will skyrocket! 

In conclusion, it’s okay to come to university and not want to take part in the drinking culture. It is vital that you stay confident within your decisions and clearly express your choice and reasoning to friends at university. If they are your true friends, they will accept your decisions and it shouldn’t be a problem, even when clubbing or going to the pub! I urge you to try dry January to not discipline yourself but to test both your mental and physical state. There are no negatives to trying out dry January, only positives. Test yourself. You might love the outcome.  

Spectator, T. (2023). How much do students drink? The Spectator

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