William Eichler 20 September 2016

Binge drinking ‘social glue’ for students and young workers

Binge drinking ‘social glue’ for students and young workers image

Peer pressure and a ‘fear of missing out’ is driving binge drinking among students and young workers, study finds.

A new Demos report on youth alcohol consumption has revealed that despite an overall declining trend in youth drinking, consuming harmful levels of alcohol is still common in offices and on campuses.

Demos also identified a rate of binge drinking ten percentage points higher than the official statistics – with 29% of 16-24 year olds reporting excessive consumption, compared to 19% in the Health Survey for England (HSE).

The think tank’s research - published as Youth Drinking in Transition - found eight out of 10 students believe their university’s drinking culture is important, and two-thirds regard not drinking as a barrier to social integration.

Half of the students polled by Demos recognised there was too much drinking on campus, but those who drank were protective of what they characterise as a ‘rite of passage’ and argued policy-makers should not intervene.

However, the researchers did discover an overall cultural shift on university campuses towards drinking less and spending more time in coffee shops.

Heavy drinking is very common among young workers too, Demos reports.

Despite 67% of young workers reporting their socialising during the week takes place with friends outside of the office, 40% still feel that the drinking culture at work is important. 44% of those surveyed said they drink with colleagues, and 10% with clients.

Many of the young workers Demos spoke too said they were concerned that abstaining from alcohol could undermine their professional progression, and about a quarter cited peer pressure from colleagues to drink.

The think tank found drinking was most excessive among those in manual jobs (construction and manufacturing), followed by services (law, finance and communications). The lowest rates of binge drinking were found in public services (police, education and health).

In top professions, such as business, law and finance, drinking was identified as a powerful social currency, as well as a salve for the stresses of modern life.

32% of young workers report binge drinking having a negative impact on their work performance, whereas only 23% of students said it impacted on their studies.

‘Harmful drinking is on the decline amongst young adults, which is good news for policy-makers. But as our new research shows, this is not a victory won,’ warned the senior researcher at Demos, Ian Wybron.

‘The government likely does not know the true numbers drinking to excess. Alcohol remains the defining social glue for many young adults, with non- drinkers effectively excluded in many circles.’

‘Tackling excessive drinking cultures where they exist head-on, as well as encouraging more responsible norms and precedents at different life stages, is vital to building a more responsible drinking culture,’ he continued.

‘Excessive young drinkers commonly think that they will grow out of harmful drinking as they hit more ‘adult’ life stages. But it is clear that while many will indeed move on, for others dangerous precedents are set that are much harder to shift.

‘Government departments, universities and students’ unions, employers, schools, local community organisations, all have a role to play.’

Let’s tell a new story image

Let’s tell a new story

Graham Allen says a focus on social care being solely about getting people out of hospital only diverts attention from keeping as many people as possible away from unnecessary admission.
Revolutionising mental health image

Revolutionising mental health

Cllr Jasmine Ali explains how Southwark Council is putting plans into action to revolutionise children’s mental health in Southwark.
SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Child and Family Support Worker

Essex County Council
Plus Excellent Benefits
The purpose of this role is to work within frontline teams to support the delivery of effective Children's Social Work. England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Part Time Community Rail Partnership Officer

Essex County Council
£24000 - £26275 per annum + Plus Excellent Benefits Package
Please note that this position is being offer on a part time basis, covering 23 hours per week. Working Pattern TBC. England, Essex, Rochford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Duty Officer

Telford & Wrekin Council
£19,554 - £21,166
The successful candidate will work across a rota pattern that includes regular evening and weekend working and will be responsible for... Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Business Support Officer - Learning and Early Support

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£19,554 - £21,166
Duties will include... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Plant and Motor Vehicle Technician - 3 jobs

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£24,799 - £26,317
You will carry out vehicle inspections, servicing, maintenance and repairs to vehicles and plants operated by Kirklees Council in... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how public sector organisations can unlock the hidden value in their land, and why a new approach to construction could help boost the outcomes of the Government’s One Public Estate programme.

The December issue also considers why learnings from ancient cities could provide the key to promoting wellbeing in the modern built environment. It also contains a case study on how the London Borough of Westminster has provided high quality care for the elderly alongside a block of luxury apartments.

Register for your free digital issue