Why are more students ditching alcohol?

2 Mins read

Recent studies show that nearly 150,000 university students have given up alcohol since last September alone; but why are young people, like Riley, age 20, making this lifestyle choice? 

“I don’t like how being drunk makes me feel, I like being able to control myself, plus it’s healthier and I spend less money,” says Riley, a student in London who lives a completely sober life despite being at university in the country’s capital.

She is not alone. Riley has joined the third of university students in the UK who identify as sober, among the 800,000 teetotal young brits according to figures from 2021.

It’s no secret that heavy drinking habits can ultimately result in health problems, one of the most prevalent being mental health – which seems to be the main reason for this ‘trending’ lifestyle change, as drinking culture often dominates student life for many young people.

Recent studies show that 41% of Gen Z-ers and millennials relate alcohol to a sense of ‘vulnerability’, ‘anxiety’ and in some cases ‘abuse,’ while 60% associate drinking with a loss of control. With these figures, it’s no shock that young adults are deciding to ditch the booze.  

“The proportion of non-drinkers has increased by 3% since 2015

Drink Aware

If 18-25-year-olds aren’t going out partying every weekend, what are they doing? “My days are busy with going to the gym, uni, work and just balancing life in general, especially when fitness is so key to me,” Riley says and she explains that this recent take-off in sobriety comes at “a very health-conscious time” for many Gen Zs and millennials.

From ‘healing your gut health’, ‘practising mindfulness’ and ‘being a gym rat,’ is this surge in abstinence just another trend, or is it actually changing?

Many say the pandemic changed Millennials’ drinking habits, from going out every weekend to suddenly having normality dramatically stripped away, it seems there was a sudden realisation that drinking doesn’t ‘add’ anything to your life. A key factor in this change of mindset is that young people today know far more about health risks associated with these kinds of behaviours. 

Whether it be #SoberTok or Instagram influencing you, the fact that the proportion of non-drinkers has increased by 3% since 2015 showcases one of the few positive sides to social media. Growing up in a world that is so well connected and widely educated, has provided a unique landscape for Gen Z. They’re a generation that seem to be weighed down by financial and societal worries, so they’re far more risk-averse.

If you have been ‘influenced’ and wish to begin your journey of sobriety, be it as a student or other, “go for it! You can even just limit your drinking and remember you can do the same things you do now without drugs and alcohol” says Riley. 


Head to the links below for tips and communities you can join to practise this lifestyle with like-minded people in the UK. 

Featured image by Michael Discenza

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