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Scottish drinking culture at university isn’t normal

Infamous, hilarious, and potentially toxic

Scotland has become infamous for its rabid drinking culture, with stories of children starting to drink at a very young age and Scottish folks being able to handle their booze better than your average person from elsewhere.

Although it can be fun and somewhat (weirdly) patriotic to laugh at the love of Buckfast or a Scottish person’s ability to turn any situation into an excuse to get drunk while reminiscing on your days drinking MD 20/20 in a field, Scottish drinking is so much more than a quirky aspect of our culture.

Excessive alcohol consumption in Scotland and in particular Glasgow is a part of life, and all over the world students are binge drinking, so combine student culture with Scottish culture and you create a risky environment for Scottish university students.

Laura Mcgee, a 21-year-old Glasgow University graduate, spoke about how “all people want to do is drink at uni – that is the only activity to see friends”. She discussed living at home in a town surrounding Glasgow, which often led to her seeing friends less as she could not get home after drinking.

“Because the only plans were to drink, if I wanted to see my friends I had to also drink, meaning I couldn’t have drove home. So, I was often left out and missed a lot of socialising that is so important when you are at uni”.

Laura also raised an interesting point that so many non-drinking activities have been turned into bars and an excuse to get drunk.

“Mini-golf, Bowling and even the cinema have alcohol available, so even activities that could be done sober have turned into a heavy night out”.

Similarly, Sam Law, who attended Strathclyde, said: “There aren’t many social events that aren’t tied to drinking”. He discussed how he couldn’t recall many university social events he didn’t have at least a few drinks.

Not only does binge drinking prevent us from doing our day-to-day tasks, its so bad for our physical and mental health. Despite the negative side effects of drinking being pretty well known, its very common to see students partying three nights a week and then struggling with poor mental health and generally feeling like crap majority of the time.

That’s without mentioning the awful days spent hurling over the toilet and frightening act of waking up and checking your online banking (God only knows how we manage to spend so much when drinks were only two quid).

While drinking can definitely be fun and create good memories at uni, the way Scottish people and especially students rely on alcohol for fun memories can be worrying.

Drink Aware Scotland found that 34 per cent of high risk drinkers in Scotland are aged 18 to 34, a notably higher percentage than the rest of the UK.

While it’s not reasonable to expect students to cut alcohol out altogether, perhaps there should be more attention brought to the links between student’s poor mental health and drinking habits.

In Scotland, those aged 16 to 24 were more than two times likely to have drinking patterns suggestive of alcohol dependence than any other age category. Additionally, in 2021, depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies were more common in young adults than older age groups. Although there are an abundance reasons why young people face mental health struggles, the significance of alcohol consumption must be discussed.

Alcohol Focus Scotland said: “Drinking a lot dulls the feel-good systems in the rain so more alcohol is needed to achieve the same effects. In the long run, drinking can reduce mental wellbeing and contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression, rather than reliving them”.

Drink Aware found that people who are depressed find that cutting out alcohol all together for just four weeks made a clear difference in how they feel.

Its easy to use alcohol as a coping mechanism for university stress or to get caught up in the madness continuous social events, but I think it’s time Scottish people and students stopped to reflect on if our behaviour is normal.

However, more and more people are talking about their choices to go sober or majorly reduce their consumption. ‘Damp’ lifestyle, a term popularised on TikTok, means drinking much less and less often. Although many of the people sharing their damp lifestyles online seem to be from the US, Scottish people and especially students should start paying attention.


& the perfect damp night is combining a lot of these habits! These are just starting points! Lmk what else I should add 🙂 #damplifestyle #sobercurious #dryjanuary #dryishjanuary

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