Drink yourself stupid

Excessive drinking has long been part of the student lifestyle, but things can spiral out of control. The Linc spoke to a University of Lincoln student, and recovering alcoholic, to find out why.

Alcohol is known for its ability to ease nerves and make people feel more sociable. But with so many dangers to your health, not to mention bank balances, why do students drink so much?

Students resort to alcohol to get in the party mood. | Photo: Anneka James
Students resort to alcohol to get in the party mood. | Photo: Anneka James

Ed is a recovering alcoholic, who knows what it’s like when drinking goes from being a fun, social activity, to spiralling out of control. He studied at the University of Lincoln in 2000, but he only stayed for one year. Ed loved Freshers’ Week, and enjoyed the social aspects of university a lot, more than the academic side. “I was the first to arrive and the last to leave every party, I didn’t want them to end.

“It wasn’t about the quantity I drank, but the effect it had on me. Drinking gave me a character change, it made me more confident and brave enough to talk to girls,” Ed says.

However, the party did end for Ed, as he neglected his studies and dropped out of university on a whim to move to Finland. He had acquired a habit of chatting to women on the internet, and spontaneously decided to move abroad to be with a girl he had never met in person. Ed described this behaviour, as well as his personality, as “compulsive” and he returned home 18 months later.

Momentarily, his life was back on track and he was working as a learning support assistant at North Nottingham College. This was short lived as, using alcohol to fight his introverted character once again, Ed lost his job.

Ed is refreshingly honest about his darkest time which was soon to follow. “February 2007 was my lowest, jobless, I was depressed and suicidal, but all my attempts of suicide were just attention seeking. I spent my life in the pub, drinking on my own,” he says. When Ed was 29 and living with his father, he had sunk very far into his addiction. He explains how things bottomed out as he alienated his family by betraying their trust by stealing alcohol and building up huge phone bills calling sex chat lines.

“One night, I drank all of the alcohol in my house, put music on really loud, and pretended I was having a house party. I put glasses full of alcohol in every room of the house. In the morning, my father threw me out and I had to sleep in my car,” Ed says.

A group of students told The Linc the main reasons they drink: to “enhance a good night”, “boost confidence”, and “to feel invincible”. One student said that drinking was never a “conscious decision, just a part of university life that I don’t really question.”

Alice Soranidi, a student at the University of Lincoln, came to England last September to start her first year of her course. She described the change in the drinking culture as “really strange”, and had never drunk to excess until she came to Lincoln.

“In England, everybody goes out to get drunk, whereas in Greece we go out to have fun. Last year, I noticed that a lot of students have pre-drinks at their flats before moving onto bars and clubs, but in Greece people don’t really do that. We’re used to having a good night without getting drunk,” she said.

However, Ed warns students to stick to their limits, as he knows how the spiral of drinking can get out of control. “People need to think about getting help if they put limits on their drinking that they can’t keep. Also, one major warning sign is when a person drinks because it’s the only way they can feel good about themselves,” he warns.

Ed’s action plan for any student worried about their drinking habits is to firstly see their doctor, talk to friends and family, and use Alcoholics Anonymous as a last resort.

Addaction, a treatment service, can be found on Newland Street, Lincoln.

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