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The International Writers Magazine: UK Living

Is alcoholism a new life trend?
Faye Joice
Unlike other countries around the world, England’s drinking age is set at a rather low eighteen. Although many readers will disagree and think eighteen is actually an adequate age for this kind of law, should it be?


It seems to be the threshold for maturity, the entrance to adulthood, and the beginning of a more independent life. But what part in this does, and should, alcohol play? Is it still a privilege for eighteen year olds to be able to consume alcohol, or more a requirement?

The youth culture today, or more the expectations that go along with the university experience, is one highly centered around alcohol. Throughout school educations, young people are taught the negative effects of over consumption and how to stay away from alcohol and say no to peer pressure. Yes, students at this age are below the minimum drinking age, so in fact schools are just enforcing a law, but surely the principles and effects should remain. Unfortunately though, as students get to the legal age of officially below allowed to drink in licensed premises (rather than after hours at the local park) this responsibility is neglected and even in some cases, mocked.

Today it seems to be that the whole culture of life at University revolves around alcohol. Take ‘Carnage,’ for instance. Not only a huge waste of government money (student loans drained away on two for one bottles of vodka) but an event that has ambulances on standby, and in no way encourages and builds the aspirations of a young student. University after all is primarily about the education, something it seems people often forget. The education on alcohol abuse seems to be non-existent. Clubs display signs in the toilets (of all places) to ‘know your limits,’ but will serve students who are evidently past their limit. This act, not only disregards all significance of these un-noticed posters on the back of the doors of the toilets people are throwing up into, but is sending a message to young people that alcohol is a game, and drinking should be taken lightly.

In actual fact, drinking is far from an innocent game. In 2003, a study carried out by charity ‘Turning point,’ was published online by the BBC, stated that ‘At least six times as many people are dependant on alcohol than class A drugs.’ Alcohol, is addictive, and apparently more so than class A drugs. So why is it so readily available? Well, that comes down to many questions relating to self inflicted health issues, for example smoking, another product with an extremely high fatality rate in Britain

Money. Radix malorum est cupiditas. The root of all evil is greed. It appears Chaucer was right, cigarette’s aren’t taken off our shelves, and alcohol consumption in clubs isn’t restricted because it makes the government too much money. Money at the expense of the health of a high proportion of young people in England.

Clubs have the control over who buys and consumes their drinks, security guards are there to control the behaviour of the clubbers who are intoxicated under the influence. Unfortunately, the jobs of the people put into control of these establishments, seem to be distributed to just anyone. Bouncers walk past girls draped over the stairs to the toilets, and shrug off the men who can't walk in a straight line. They’ll go home, and sleep it off, or so everyone thinks. What if this generation can't kick the habit? Excuses range from the strain of exam and coursework deadlines, the looming thought of an extended recession (the recession seems to be an excuse for everything) with no job prospects when their degree is over, or just an urge to follow the lifestyle of other students. What if it is more than just ‘a bit of fun?’ With 1 in 13 people becoming alcoholics in Britain (according to Alcoholics Anonymous statistics), the likelihood of this number increasing with the current mindset of students all over the country is worrying. A dependency on alcohol can be easily hidden and therefore not detectable by students who think they are just doing what all university students do. The question that needs raising to students is; ‘Could you spend a week at University without alcohol?’
© Faye Joice Feb 2010
Faye is in her first year at the University of Portsmouth

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