Drugs and Alcohol

Alcohol and social life

The main reason why most young people say they drink is to have fun and relax. Alex described idyllic warm summer evenings in his mid to late teens when he and his friends went camping, or to music festivals, and would sit outside with a beer and a BBQ. Raphael says that he always enjoys having a few beers when he is watching the football with friends. Hayley prefers a quiet drink in the pub with people who are already good friends. Kayleigh and Steph both said that they always have a good time when they go out drinking but knew from experience that things can easily go wrong when you’ve had too much to drink.
What are the effects of alcohol?
People talked about the different ways alcohol can affect someone’s personality. Kim says that when she drinks she becomes more bubbly and talkative. Jamie says that he thinks he becomes a happier, louder and funnier version of his usual self when he’s had a few drinks. Kayleigh pointed out that being drunk can lead you into dangerous situations. Alcohol, or certain types of alcohol, could affect people’s behaviour in a bad way, making them more likely to get into arguments or fights or take risks (see also Alcohol and risks to self and others). 
Drinking habits after leaving home
When young people move out of their parents’ home, or go on a gap year, some took advantage of the extra freedom by drinking more alcohol. Jen said that, at University, she didn’t have to ‘answer to anyone’. 
Some of the young people we talked to were surprised by how much alcohol featured at University Fresher’s Weeks. Heavy drinking seemed to be a big part of some people’s experience of the first year at University.  A group of young men pointed out that University students are required to spend less time in class than students at school and wondered if this partly explained the heavy drinking during the week. However, they also said that the medical students they knew, who had more lectures per week than anyone else, were the heaviest drinkers they knew!
Changes in drinking habits over time
Young people talked about how, as they got older, their drinking habits changed and they started to drink less.

Last reviewed: July 2018.
Last updated: January 2015.


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