NUS to tackle student drinking

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The National Union of Students has teamed up with alcohol charity, Drinkaware, to tackle alcohol misuse within universities and the student population. The tie-up is launched alongside new research that indicates many 18-24 year olds think that it is socially unacceptable not to drink alcohol on a night out; and that one in five young adults (21%) believe pressure from their peers influences them to drink more.

Of the 5.8 million 18-24 year olds in the UK, more than 1.3 million are students starting university in the Autumn. 

By working together, the two organisations will develop training programmes for bar staff and students’ union officers and codes of conduct for Fresher’s week activities.  The multi-year partnership will also target and help universities struggling to combat excessive alcohol consumption. 

The research which surveyed 2000 young adults shows that 16% feel that asking for a glass of water in a pub or club is socially unacceptable. At the same time, almost a quarter (23%) of 18-24 year olds believe their friends will ridicule them for drinking a non-alcoholic drink on a night out.

Chris Sorek, Chief Executive of Drinkaware, said: “When students are enjoying their time at University it can be easy to forget that what you’re doing today can affect the rest of your life.  Rightly or wrongly, students have a reputation for drinking to excess, but this is also part of our wider culture - we need to change people’s relationship with alcohol, not just among students, but in society as a whole. 

“Choosing to drink water on a night out shouldn’t be seen as unacceptable, but getting so drunk that you put yourself in harms way should be. By working with NUS we can help provide students and young adults with the facts about alcohol as well as tips and advice for how to stay safe if they’re drinking.”

Ben Whittaker, NUS Vice-President, said:” The majority of students drink in a responsible manner but sadly some may feel pressure to drink excessive amounts of alcohol on a night out.

"It's important that we make clear to all young people that excessive alcohol consumption can damage their health and place them in a vulnerable position."

Each year, alcohol misuse for all ages costs society the NHS around £2.7 billion, although the wider cost to society including crime and disorder, social and family breakdown and sickness absence is estimated at closer to £25.1 billion.  Binge drinking among adults under 25 is of particular concern with nearly 50,000 16-24 year olds admitted to hospital in England and Wales in 2007/08 due to alcohol related causes.

Drinkaware advises men to stay within the recommended guidelines of 3-4 units of alcohol per day (equivalent of a pint and a half of lager) and women to stay within 2-3 units per day (equivalent of a 175ml glass of wine).

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