According to a 2022 survey, 81% of students said that drinking alcohol was a vital element of the culture of universities, and 51% of respondents said that they think being drunk will guarantee a fun night out. Whether or not you agree with this statement, the data suggests that the vast majority of students enjoy engaging in alcohol use (SOS-UK.org, 2022).
However, even though going out drinking on a student night or the weekend could be a lot of fun, alcohol consumption can create serious mental health problems.
It can also be tempting to use alcohol as self-medication, particularly if you are an anxious university student dealing with a high workload; but it could have the opposite effect to the one you intended.
According to Drinkaware alcohol can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety, and it may also make the mental health issues that you are already dealing with more difficult to manage. This is because alcohol is a depressant: it alters the delicate balance of chemicals in your brain.
While many students will see drinking as a central part of the student lifestyle, you can limit your consumption of alcohol and still take care of your mental health in a number of different ways. These include finding other activities to take part in. Studies have shown that even just walking for 30 minutes a day may significantly enhance mental health. You could also try eating out rather than going out for drinks; and participating in enjoyable activities, such as going to the cinema or bowling.
The NHS recommends that to keep health risks from alcohol low:
- men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis
- spread your drinking over 3 or more days if you regularly drink as much as 14 units a week