Why I stopped drinking as a uni student

January 14, 2015
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The semester break is nearing its end so it’s time to put down the schooner. The boot. The bucket. The goon sack. While we hear the constant “I’m giving up alcohol” it’s better said than done (though it would be better done than just said). Our culture calls for meeting up over a pint, dancing the night away and then, after spending all that money on alcohol, most likely bringing it back up after a binge.

There are bona fide reasons for giving up alcohol, such as health, money and time (think of all the DVDs of Full House you could buy and watch). But other than the “I don’t want a beer gut and four chins anymore” excuse, what are some of the other reasons convincing students to trial a booze-free life?

“A movement towards a better drinking culture,” runs Hello Sunday Morning’s slogan. It’s simple in that, like cigarette smoking, drinking alcohol is so normal that going cold turkey may be seen as stupid. What Hello Sunday Morning does is encourage individuals to give up drinking on a Saturday night.

Drink one night of the weekend, they say, but give yourself the opportunity to enjoy Sunday for what it’s worth. We work and study all week so the opportunity to have a day completely free is entirely worthwhile. To enjoy a morning without the pressures of getting to work on time or submitting that essay you crammed the night before; a morning where you get up with a clear mind sans a nasty hangover.

It’s because of my sober life that I’ve expanded my social circles. I learnt socialisation skills mostly when I was travelling alone in Europe and living alone in Paris, before I really broke into the uni (and drinking) scene. I befriended people who weren’t students, I befriended travellers and hard workers – people who I felt I fitted in with more easily.

I learnt that being sober doesn’t automatically make you the complicated one in a social drinking situation. In the end, you end up being less of the twit doing peace signs in photos. No one’s mad at you the next day for puking in the stairwell (the memory still lingers like the stench itself). Saying “no” to a beer shouldn’t conjure up a feeling of awkwardness. It should be empowering. Life isn’t a Sims game. Your free will is yours to keep.

Another thing is the feeling of authenticity. Reliance on alcohol for a good night out is a consuming thought for many, though it doesn’t need to be. When you’re sober you’re not in any way affected by external influences. What you feel is exactly what you yourself feel. It’s both an outward and inward experience of authenticity. It’s ironic that we need a little alcohol to “be ourselves” isn’t it?

Most importantly, though, sometimes we want to be reminded that we’re not just students. If anything, I believe that cutting down alcohol consumption allows us to do just that. Try it for a week, a month, or even a semester. Then go all out after exams. Because hey, you and your multiple chins deserve it, right?

Ruth Hodge

Ruth Hodge is a law student at the University of Newcastle, often found introducing herself to new people by quoting the chorus of City High's 'What Would You Do' and then asking them if she can finish their lunch. Ruth tweets at @strewthrewth.

Image: Liam Cameron