Going out tonight? Pub? Bottle of wine at mine? 

With the influential drinking culture that exists at University, sometimes it can be hard to separate socialising from alcohol. Social drinking has its benefits; it is fun, it brings people together, and it solidifies friendships. From the start of University during Freshers, socialising is intertwined with alcohol. But when does it get to the point where all your social interactions rely on alcohol?

It is important to consider where you would be without alcohol. Can you socialise without having a drink? Alcohol is a great social lubricant to take the edge off, but it is also problematic. The routine formed at University of socialising with alcohol can be difficult to snap out of.

Yet when does this become a problem? If you find it difficult to enjoy yourself without having a drink, it is time to reflect on your over-reliance on alcohol.

Alcohol may make you feel great, but it is easier than people think for the need to drink to take over your life. That lunchtime pint In Old Bar may seem innocent now, but it can rapidly become an expensive and dangerous cycle.

Drinking alcohol has become the most common social activity. It is worrying that University culture is perpetrating a reliance on alcohol to socialise. From sports societies’ socials to Old Bar and Terrace serving from 11 am, there is an increasing pressure to participate in this drinking culture to live the ‘University experience’ to the full.

When first-year students are thrown into freshers, many may start drinking to combat their social anxieties and feel it is the only way to fit in. This can then become a fall back for the rest of the time they spend there.

How do you counteract this social drinking when so many of your friendships are alcohol dependant? People worry that without drinking and going out, they would not have much in common with their friends. These alcohol-based relationships can be toxic.

What are the other options? The University is attempting to combat alcohol reliance by encouraging societies to organise more sober focused socials. These are important, not only to support those who do not drink to get involved but also to place less emphasis on the need to drink to be sociable, outgoing and to overall have more fun.

You must address why you drink; is it to have fun with your friends or is it to tackle deeper routed social anxieties? Relying on alcohol will only make these social anxieties worse as the correlation between alcohol and mental health is proven. It is perfectly normal to enjoy social drinking and like the way alcohol makes you feel more confident and outgoing in social occasions, but you must be able to like yourself without it.

Social drinking, such as going to the pub or enjoying the occasional big night out with your friends is fun. However, when all your socialising revolves around alcohol, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate friendships and the effect alcohol has on your life. People consider drinking on your own the start of having a dependence on alcohol, but is social drinking really where these problems begin? 

Leah Dunderdale-Smith