The Galleon - Portsmouth's Student Newspaper


Who’s the boss of your bottle?

Drinking culture should be a choice, not mandatory

Now before you dismiss this article as simply another slash against the problem of alcohol
and the lude behaviour associated with it, rest assured that I do not condemn your
celebratory ‘end of shift pint’ or drinking to have fun and celebrate. If I were criticising this, I would be nothing short of hypocritical.

Alcohol can be a fun and releasing choice in certain situations. It can be gateway to feeling more accepted and socially warmer. Conversations ping like elastic, people express aspects of their personality they wouldn’t feel comfortable doing when sober (which can be comical when a drunk six-foot rugby player reveals a hidden passion for tap dancing) and some of the best friendships are made over the froth of a pint.

The crucial word here that we must always remember is ‘choice’. If we are going to drink and enjoy it, the choice to do so should only be made wholeheartedly by us. The problem comes when we feel like we have to, even when our livers are screaming in protest. You’re sat on the squidgy stool of a bustling bar and your friends are stacking glasses of vibrant coloured liquid in front of you and demanding that you pour them down your throat at top speed, until the last trickle is gone and you have proved your worthiness as a chugger. Sound familiar?

From this we can infer that drinking has now become more of a demand than a choice. Particularly for students, drinking has become more of a scheduled event to complete rather than something to be enjoyed. Now some students cannot engage with certain circles of friends without passing the great ‘chugging initiation’. Though this may be enjoyed by many, it has been known to put distinctly heavy pressure on people looking to simply make friends and enjoy themselves.

The recent case of Newcastle University student Ed Farmer who lost his life after suffering a cardiac arrest when a student society he had joined expected him to consume large quantities of spirits, is
a tragic reminder of what can happen when drinking is expected and not chosen. Ed Framer’s father has protested widely against such ritualistic drinking in universities and against the notion of initiation ceremonies.

Imagine the atmosphere of pressure in some nightclubs throughout the UK today. A
throbbing, frantic environment where everybody is gradually losing control and bellowing at
you to join them in yet another swig, that you know will topple your awareness to the point
of discomfort.

My point is that we shouldn’t feel the need to drink because others tell us that it’s the right
thing to do. The best drinks in my opinion are the ones that we choose to consume when we
know we’ve earned it. When we know that the world has been put to right and we can enjoy
ourselves. Nobody forces a drink like that on us, that’s what makes it a treat. Don’t let anyone else control your bottle in the club tonight other than you.

The Galleon always values your opinions and comments, so feel free to share with us what
you thought of this article. Stay safe out there.

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