More students turning their backs on booze

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Young people are drinking less alcohol. Pic © Chloe Tomkins JMU Journalism

A new study suggests more young people are choosing to abstain from drinking alcohol, but some local students say they fear the stigma of admitting they are teetotal.

Researchers from the University College London found that a third of 16 to 24-year-olds said they did not drink at all in 2015, compared to a smaller proportion of one in five in 2005.

Heading well into Sober October, drinking rates have declined from 27% in 2005 to 18% in 2015, based on figures from Health Survey for England.

Around 10,000 young adults took part in the study, showing a substantial drop in the consumption of alcohol.

Freshers are frequently categorised as the heaviest binge-drinkers, but Kate Stelfox, 18, a student at Edge Hill University, told JMU Journalism she chooses not to drink for medical reasons and her own choice.

She said: “I have never particularly enjoyed drinking as it gives me terrible headaches, some that last up to three days, even after only drinking a small amount.

“I was nervous about declaring myself as a non-drinker when going to university due to the reputation of university and alcohol. My friends from my flat and from my course, some of which drink and some that don’t, do not seem to have any issue with anybody not drinking.”

YouTube: Chloe Tomkins

Binge drinking on the whole has also reduced in young adults, as only 28% admitted drinking above the recommended limits (14 units a week), compared with 43% a decade earlier in 2005.

Angelina Cliff, President of the Liverpool John Moores Student Union told JMU Journalism why she thinks young people in the city are ditching boozy nights out, saying: “It’s really expensive to go out drinking nowadays, a lot more than it used to be.

“There’s also a massive increase in wellness and clean eating. People are really focusing on looking after themselves. Excessive drinking causes really bad mental health issues and I think the conversation around mental health is starting to help people not depend on alcohol.

“Anyone wanting to join university but doesn’t want to drink should know it’s absolutely fine, no one should be pressured into it. The student union offers loads of activities that don’t involve drinking.”