Eat, pace, hydrate: Why you should drink mindfully at university

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Although drinks with your mates at uni can be a lot of fun, binge drinking is not. 

At university it is commonly perceived that drinking alcohol is everyone’s number one priority, and studying is a pass time until the next party. This large drinking culture can be extremely daunting, and it can feel that there is an expectation to take part in order to fit in.
Helena Conibear, CEO of The Alcohol Education Trust, states how statistically this is proven to not be true. In fact, 25-30% of 16–25-year-olds choose to not drink any alcohol. Plus 80% of those who do choose to drink say that they do so to meet new people and to have fun, not to binge drink. “Don’t think all social things are around booze” says Helena “because they’re not.” 
As of this year The Alcohol Education Trust have extended their age remit up to 25. By working with sixth formers and second year university students, the organisation are aiming to be able to give guidance and support to those looking at going to university, as well as current students.
There are a number of short-term dangers as a result of consuming too much alcohol, Helena explains, such as accidents, violence, theft as well as unprotected or risky sex.
However, heavy drinking in your youth can also have long term lasting effects. “The brain is not fully developed until age 25” and excessive drinking before this age can cause “a higher risk of dependency issues later in life” explains Helena.
Some students may become dependant on alcohol while at university to cope with stress or loneliness. But Sophie Parker, a second-year university student and a member of Student Minds Cambridge, urges those who are struggling to seek help for their mental health. “There is no shame in struggling” says Sophie “many people turn to substances to cope, but luckily there are many people who are willing to help.” Your university can help with counselling, advice and developing coping strategies. 
Despite this, Sophie emphasises that “alcohol can be okay in moderation, especially in social settings.” However, mental health can be affected due to the amount of money spent on alcohol as well as unsafe situations you may find yourself in as a result of drinking. “It is incredibly important to look out for your friends when drinking” Sophie urges “keeping each other safe will help you to have a great night.”
“Eat, pace, hydrate” is Helena’s advice to everyone consuming alcohol. Ensure that you eat a few hours before drinking alcohol, pace your alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic beverages in between and drink plenty of water. 
“Drinking at university can be great fun” says Sophie “and looking out for yourself and others can help you make some great memories.