Drinking Culture and a Damning Reputation: Brits on the Booze

March 25, 2012 4:49 pm

Saturday night has come and gone and as I now sit here typing out this article, there seems to only be one thing on my mind. This self-inflicted, stomach-churning, head-splitting hangover. I’ve gone through the motions; the sore head, the nausea, the regret, the aversion to light, the ‘I’m-never-drinking-again’ and now the slobbing on the sofa watching some pointless show on television. I have, in effect, just watched myself waste an entire day of my life. I have done nothing but complain, groan, whinge and nap on what has been one of the warmest and most summery days of the year thus far.

I can absolutely guarantee that I am not the only person who, on this gorgeous Sunday evening, is sitting feeling, let’s just say, a little worse for wear. To be honest, we don’t really have a leg to stand on if we want to complain. Too many double vodka-lemonades in a mélange of loud, booming music and hot, sweaty people – the hangover is part of the package. You drink; you suffer the next day. Everybody knows that. But why do we do it? Why are we effectively paying to feel like we’ve just been beaten up? I think it’s safe to say that the drinking culture is slowly spinning out of control; at least it is in the UK.

As it currently stands in this country, men are recommended to drink no more than 3-4 units of alcohol per day, with women’s recommendations being no more than 2-3 units. This is equivalent to two pints for men and one and a half for women. I can just about hazard a guess to say that the majority of young people, last night alone, consumed a fair few more units than the recommended daily allowance.

University life has taken a swift left turn recently and now much more emphasis is being put on the social side of life as opposed to the educational side. Alcohol is prevalent in everyday university conversation, with endless amounts of gossip from the night before and as various clubs and pubs are open seven days a week, there’s seemingly no escaping it. Even before you can think about joining any kind of sports team you have to face the initiation phase; an embarrassing, dangerous excuse for current team members to get the potential team members absolutely bladdered. Classy.

Delving even deeper into these initiations, let’s take a look at one game that has become commonplace in a few cities up and down the UK: The Frosty Jack’s Challenge.  This is a take on Edward Ciderhands, where participants have to tape a bottle of cider to their hands and consume it within a certain time period. The aforementioned Frosty Jack’s is a 3 litre bottle of 7.5% ABV apple cider that can be bought for as little as £2.25. The challenge starts as soon as all participants have had both hands taped to the bottle. They then have two hours to consume the entire bottle, which contains a whopping 22.5 units. So, in two hours, each participant will have aimed to have downed just under six days worth of alcohol. Where has this need to imbibe, and technically abuse, copious amounts of alcohol come from?


According to NHS statistics, in 2009/2010 there were 1,057,000 alcohol related admissions to hospital. 63% were men, and unsurprisingly, the majority of people who partake in rigorous drinking challenges are men, although women are definitely catching up. Binge drinking in British people has taken over the news an ungodly amount of times, with ‘Brits Abroad’ being headline to some of the most embarrassing news stories around. British women had even been branded ‘the ugliest in the world’ according to an international poll with “Beer-guzzling”, “belching” and “hideous dress sense” being just some of the descriptions floating around. Not a reputation one really wants to be a part of.

Thinking about it, a hangover is a small price to pay when it’s in direct competition with a disgusting reputation all over the world. Government plans describe raising the price of each unit to 40p, which slashes alcohol deals and aims to deter binge drinking across England and Wales.

I’m not entirely convinced that this will change all that much; people who want alcohol, and lots of it, are willing to fork out a hell of a lot of money to get it, especially judging by the way students live. It’s difficult to change people’s minds about things like alcohol, smoking and drugs, especially when they really enjoy their effects. I’m not entirely sure what would have to happen to change the way the UK views alcohol, but it would have to be something truly eye-opening.

  • youryankeebluejeans

    I’m puzzled. You just wrote an article about alcohol abuse, when you yourself admitted to writing this article with a hangover caused by heavy drinking. Which side do you stand on? Are you against drinking? Also, there’s little actual content to this, you’ve stated a few (common knowledge) facts and figures about drinking in men and women, so what? What does this mean? 2-3 units a day is the recommended limit if that person drinks EVERY day. I’ts not unacceptable or unhealthy to exceed that limit so long as the person is neither pregnant or exceeding that limit frequently. It’s a recommendation, not the maximum dosage.

    ”University has taken swift left turn, with more emphasis on social life than education” (paraphrasing). Says who? Where have you got the information from that says universities are more interested in people having fantastic social lives than studying. Universities take an interest in the health and welfare of their students, yes. But the aim of that is to make sure students are well and able enough to participate in their course, I don’t think they take an interest in making sure students get plenty of opportunity to go out on the piss every night.

    You’ve alluded to a drinking culture in Britain, but made almost no effort to include any of your own opinions on why or how it has arose and expand upon them.

    Your use of crap stock photos and information snatched straight from the NHS website shows your laziness as a writer. Your concluding paragraph is poor, you haven’t even drawn a conclusion, all you’ve said is that you don’t know (which is clear from your obvious lack of actual in depth research into the topic). Perhaps you’d know more if you’d actually bothered to look at facts and figures from academic research and newspapers instead of the same shit that get’s spit up by the tabloids.

    Finally, here’s a tip for you, if you want your readers to take an interest in what you’ve written about a topic; First, don’t tell us you wrote it hungover, that shows already a lack of caring about what you’re writing and tells me you probably didn’t put any real effort in. Secondly, don’t just quote and paraphrase facts and figures and then draw piss poor conclusions for them. If you took the time to look into in-depth research, found out about the effects of going above the alcohol limit, found out why society allows this drinking culture to happen and found out why people drink so much in the first place, the time and effort would show in your writing and your conclusions would be so much better, clearer and easier to come to.

    • Frank

      First of all, have you even read what moonproject is about? It is designed to let people like ehodson write about what she is interested in. She has clearly not written this as an academic piece, but more of a commentary of what she thinks the booze culture of Britain has become. What gives you the right to have a go at her for writing what I and others feel is an entertaining article? Express your opinion for sure, but think about what you’re writing before you make yourself look the fool.

      Another point I would like to make is that you claim that her article does not have enough evidence to support her claims. So where is your evidence? As the expression goes, you are all fart and no poo. You simply can’t criticise ehodson when you have no facts at all.

      Finally, why shouldn’t she write while hungover? In my mind that is like saying, “don’t write about food when you’re hungry”. I think she should be applauded for writing such a good piece while hungover, I certainly could not. Anyway, some great pieces of literature have been written while on drugs, or about the effects of drugs (just look at Hunter S. Thompson work) and since alcohol just another drug.

      In conclusion, don’t criticise others unless you can give a reasonable and balance opinion. Don’t just have a dig at the author, especially if you can’t show that you can do better. Emily, please keep writing. I have enjoyed everyone of your articles, and I can’t wait to see more. As the sausagemancometh said: “POW!”

  • Joey Morris

    I really enjoyed this article and completely agree with you, especially on the unattractive nature of overly drunk British women! I am a 25 year old business woman, I go out on Fridays and Saturdays because, frankly, I can’t stand having a hangover and then having to get up for work the next day. Even so, the few times I have counted up the units I consume on those nights, they are well over my weekly allowance – something which is pretty disgusting. I think the hideous hangovers that we tend to get are probably a pretty good sign that we are drinking too much.

    Whilst I’m here, I have to comment on the fairly unfair and harsh review of this article given above. I’m not entirely sure what this guy was on or if he really is as an*l as he comes across, but I think it is pretty obvious to work out what ehodson’s opinion on the matter is. Further to that, there is nothing wrong with being on a hangover and admitting it whilst writing an article. It’s a realistic and honest approach and it highlights the main point of the article, that we all have a love/hate relationship with drink. Why should she have to stand on “a side” – what a childish and moronic stand point. I know that I hate alcohol after every night I go out, I know how bad it is for me, I know that we are unattractive as a nation because we drink too much, but that isn’t going to stop me going out and having fun with my friends on the weekend.

    Also, as a recent university student, I completely agree that everything seems to have turned to a more social basis. You can’t do anything now that doesn’t involve going to the pub or on a night out with your friends, and that’s fine by me because I love it and think it’s worth the hangover.

    So, ehodson, if you read this, please don’t listen to the w**ker above, he clearly seems to be a little OCD on the subject. Looks like we need to cut down on our drinking and that he needs to chill out and have one every once in a while!

    Thanks for sharing this article. 🙂

  • the sausage man cometh.


  • Beaker

    I think that by admitting to being part of the out-of-hand drinking culture the writer highlights just how entrenched and difficult the issue is. We can criticize it all we want but drinking alcohol still seems to shape the way we view fun. The acknowledgement of that made the article very engaging. Ignore the top guys comment ehodson, he is obviously just a hater.

  • burrrr

    firstly i think the first comment is incredibly rude and clearly has no feelings for the writer. If you were to read her bio you would notice that she is only a university student and an aspiring journalist, if i was her and reading your comment i would be heartbroken and you would probably knock my confidence (even though journalists need to sometimes take criticism to improve). Secondly you’re clearly not in the bracket of student (if you are then you’re a pretty lousy one) if you were to speak to the majority of students at any university, or if you were part of a university friendship group, you would realise that students spend more time organising their next night out rather than discussing that piece of work needed for the next tutorial or seminar.
    Thirdly, ”University has taken swift left turn, with more emphasis on social life than education” sounds like the writers own view to me, and seeing as she is a student herself it is probably the view of her friends and course-mates too.
    fourth point, did it ever occur to you that being hungover was the inspiration for writing this article??
    and finally, where were you expecting the writer to get her evidence from? she’s an english student, not a doctor. The NHS is a national company of whom provide all patients and fact finder with information that is used by the public AND healthcare professionals. I think i would much rather get my information from there than retrieve information from newspapers who these days print useless biased crap.

    On a better note i thought the article was good and absolutely true. I found myself agreeing with the article all the way through and thought it was funny that ehodson was feeling the effects of a night out, i bet it must have been pretty crap finding out what you’re doing to yourself from consuming alcohol. Hope it was a good night!

  • regina philangi


  • Antoinette

    It is a serious problem, there have been TV documentaries about binge drinking in the UK, particularly among the young and women….no better time to bring this topic to attention than when you are living the hangover!
    Pity there can’t be a more moderate approach…maybe if the Brits enjoyed a glass of wine with a meal when they were younger as is often done on the continent it would be no big deal to drink by the time they got uni and were free to do as they please….

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