For most students, drinking alcohol and taking drugs is an obligatory staple of the university lifestyle. So much so, in fact, that it’s impossible for many of us to consider a life without intoxication.

That’s why Lifestyle decided to gather together the words and opinions of a group of students who have made the bold choice to abstain from drink and drugs.

Paris Cross

What’s funny is how tentatively people will ask why you don’t drink.

The reasons I don’t drink aren’t particularly exciting. I just never really found a drink that I liked the taste of, and upon discovering that I still enjoyed nights out without being drunk I decided to just go with it, saving myself a few quid. I suppose, too, that the prospect of being drunk makes me feel quite nervous as I like to be in control of myself and aware of my surroundings, so sobriety feels safer in that respect.

As I’ve never relied upon alcohol to have a good night, my experiences probably aren’t so different. I’m certainly more aware of the stickiness of the floor or how questionable a song choice is, but when everyone else is having a good time it becomes easy to lose your inhibitions and have a good time too.

The thing I find most interesting about being a sober student is people’s reactions to it. Coming to university, I had originally feared that people would be unpleasant about it and cease to invite me to social events. It turns out no-one could care less as long as you don’t stop them from doing their thing.

What’s funny is how tentatively people will ask why you don’t drink. I think people are worried they’ll sound condescending, or that they’re potentially barging in on some dramatic backstory. Sometimes I’ll be asked if I feel I’m missing out on anything to which I would say no as I still enjoy nights out and have a far less affected bank account the morning after. All I really feel I miss are hangovers and as you can imagine, that’s absolutely fine by me.

Oliver Newall

There are a number of reasons why I don’t drink. First off, I like knowing what I’m doing and how I’m behaving in front of others. I’m not a big fan of the taste of most alcoholic drinks and would rather spend money on things that I actually like the taste of.

Another big contributor is alcoholism within my family. My dad is an alcoholic, but hasn’t drunk for 21 years now after joining AA and confronting his problems. I also have other family members that have battled with alcoholism and feel that in some ways, I may end up having similar experiences if I choose to drink.

It seems strange but ‘getting drunk off the vibe’ is something I can actually relate to.

It’s an interesting experience, not drinking at university. However, it’s one that has been a lot easier than I anticipated. Once you’re past the ‘you don’t drink? Why not?’ stage and you’ve told people your reasons generally people are really understanding and it doesn’t come up again. I’m part of the Darts Society – probably the drunkest mass of people you’d come across in Pop Tarts! But they totally understand. There have only been a couple of occasions in my two years at university so far where I’ve felt uncomfortable when explaining my reasons.

There’s so much money to be saved as well – spending 20p on a lime and soda makes a massive difference to the three to four pounds you might spend on a pint. Once you have accepted the sweat, heat and smell within clubs you can actually have a really good night! You remember everything, all the crazy things that your mates get up to (which are really interesting stories to tell when you need one). You can relax, it seems strange but ‘getting drunk off the vibe’ is something I can actually relate to. The more your mates drink the more relaxed you get. You also avoid a hangover, meaning you can be out until 3am and feel up and raring to go for your 9am the same morning.

But there are admittedly some negatives. Obviously you have to keep yourself entertained. Once it gets past 1:30am and generally everyone is semi-unconscious it becomes difficult to enjoy yourself, but still I can have a really good night so long as I have the odd Red Bull to keep me going. You do also become the ‘responsible friend’, which can be irritating at times but in some ways isn’t a bad thing as you know everyone is getting home ok, and I do feel I’m appreciated by everyone for looking after them. All in all being teetotal at uni hasn’t actually had that big of an effect on my overall experience and I’d encourage more and more people to try it for a night or two, as it makes you look at things differently.

Brogan Maguire

It is so worth it to wake up with a clear head and a healthy mind.

Drinking is something that is so commonly associated with student life, but also something that hasn’t really featured in my university experience. Just a few weeks after turning 18, I decided to stop drinking in order to improve both my physical and mental health. I was suffering from really bad anxiety and acid reflux, and alcohol didn’t help with either so I cut it out altogether.

I constantly get strange looks and lots of questions from people who can’t believe that a 20 year old doesn’t like going out and getting drunk, but I’m so comfortable in my decision now that it no longer bothers me. I know that I can still have fun without drinking, and I know that going out clubbing makes me anxious so I don’t see the point in putting myself through it just to please other people.

Sometimes I feel left out when my friends go on nights out and I hear about it all the next day, but it is so worth it to wake up with a clear head and a healthy mind. I’m a much healthier person for not drinking, and it means that I have more money to spend on the things I enjoy, like clothes and day trips, which is a bonus.

Image credit: AurelienDP (pixabay).



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