Posted tagged ‘drinking’

A drink in Scotland

May 12, 2011

One of the outcomes from the Scottish National Party’s resounding election victory in last week’s elections for the Holyrood parliament will in all likelihood be the resurrection of the SNP’s proposal to set a minimum price for alcoholic drinks.

Wherever binge drinking is a problem we do need to take steps to deal with it. The Scottish government’s proposals seem to me to be reasonable. Excessive drinking causes economic, social and medical problems. It is important that these are addressed.

The student drinking culture

March 31, 2011

Over the past ten years I have frequently, particularly on a Friday night or at weekends, overheard students talking about their plans for a drinking spree. I remember on one occasion hearing one female student say to another at a bus stop that she was planning to get ‘totally smashed’ and that it would not be a good night if she could remember any of it in the morning. Maybe the recession may have put some financial restraints on such conduct, but anyone familiar with higher education will know that this would not have been an isolated attitude.

Of course the longer term impact on health of such conduct would be obvious enough to most observers, but what is the more immediate impact on the students’ studies? This has now been the subject of a study by an American doctoral student, who appears to have found that leisure activities, including drinking, can have a significant impact on academic performance; though a student who is inclined to drink but who also participates in organised extra-curriculur activities may not be so badly affected.

It is certainly the case that excessive drinking has become a problem, leading to non-attendance at classes and poor performance, but also to vandalism and anti-social behaviour that can intimidate members of the community. Most anti-drinking campaigns are directed at motorists or at the wider population more generally. It may be time to target students specifically.

A drinking culture

September 14, 2008

It’s Sunday morning. And every Sunday morning, were you to take a walk in Albert College Park next door to the DCU campus, you would see it was the morning after the night before. Every Sunday morning, throughout the year, you will find empty beer cans, vodka bottles, whiskey and other spirits scattered around the park, with a particular concentration in the children’s playground next to the campus. Every Saturday night this is the meeting place for a significant number of local young people, and what they primarily appear to do is to drink. Seeing them every so often, the average age is perhaps 17.

Albert College Park is not some horrible exception to the rule – the scene is replicated all over Dublin, and I am sure, beyond. And it tells us something pretty bad about the society we have allowed to emerge, and are doing very little to contain. It is not just that these young people are drinking to excess, but also that as they do so they are likely to terrorise the local residents.

But before anyone gets all high and mighty about these youthful miscreants, just ask about where they are getting the impetus. All over Dublin, and all over Ireland, people of all ages are doing what they regard as important – they drink. And I don’t mean that they sip a glass of wine; they drink pint after pint of beer, or shots of spirits. And eventually they leave and off-load the consequences of all this on society.

We have to come face to face with reality: as a country, we have a serious drink problem. We are being talked about, not just here, but elsewhere in the world, as this article in the New York Times shows. It is a problem with serious consequences for all of us, as we have to deal with the medical issues, the destruction of property in drink-fuelled rages, dangerous driving on the roads, the terrorising of innocent citizens. And we have to face the reality that, despite occasional appearances to the contrary, we are doing absolutely nothing about this.

And through a mixture of cause and effect of this drinking epidemic, we are losing the concept of society. As we drink, society disintegrates, and as it disintegrates we drink more. It may be that we think we are having fun in drinking groups – but fun isn’t worth much if you can’t remember it in the morning. Instead, the drunken stupor is robbing society of genuine social interaction.

This can’t go on. It is just too destructive. And sooner or later, someone has to be brave enough to do something about it.


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