[Betty Fekade | Contributing Writer]
As a university student, I can now officially count myself an expert on the effects of alcohol. This was not something I planned, or was even prepared for. Universities have a social connotation that extends beyond the educational field, some have even built themselves quite a reputation when it comes to the amount of alcohol they manage to consume. It has arguably become a social norm to proudly declare oneself an alcoholic.
Excessive alcohol consumption often begins in the first year of university as part of the ‘typical fresher’ image in which most people often try to fit into. However, this leaves students with poor health, bad grades and often malnourished wallets.
Alcohol is a serious public health issue; it has been related to diseases such as cancer, liver disease, cardiovascular disease, cirrhosis, gout, high blood pressure and many more. Alcohol consumption has also been related to depression, substance dependence, a rise in anxiety and stress levels, psychosis and a general alteration in brain chemistry.
This dramatic change inside your body is not without its repercussions: that killer headache leaves you pretty much useless and unable to concentrate on that very important lecture, practical, workshop or seminar. That is when you hit the second real effect of alcohol – your grades begin to slip and you are not in the best frame of mind to deal with them but nonetheless you bury your head in the sand – or rather pillow in this case – and try your best to feel better.
The effects of alcohol do not stop there; the next time you look at your bank balance and you are greeted with an unhappy surprise, that night you barely remember has cost you more than your entire weekly allowance; you are in big trouble. Perhaps you are lucky enough to call on the bank of mum and dad but for those of you who cannot, you are now on the slippery slope of bank overdrafts. This shift in mood often has an adverse effect on the relationships you have both within and outside university.
There are people who are taking steps to ensure that awareness is drawn to excessive alcohol consumption. Charity and government supported movements such as alcohol awareness week (17th – 23rd November) and “Go sober for October” have encouraged countless people to examine the amount of alcohol they consume, and in some cases even converting this into a fundraising campaign to fund local and national alcohol-related charities. These organisations have managed to raise more than £3 million for good causes, such as Cancer Research, animal welfare movements, etc.
Several societies within the university including Crush radio and UH PhySoc have taken part in these wonderful movements in order to draw more attention toward the issue. These brilliant individuals should be commended for their active participation and self-motivation, so a thanks goes out to everyone in Crush and Abby Bryce of UH PhySoc. If any of you would like to participate in a go sober challenge, please visit dryjanuary.org.uk.
If you or someone you know has been affected by any of the issues discussed in this article, please visit alcoholconcern.org.uk for more information or contact the UH counselling and wellbeing team on 01707284453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.