“Basically, if you want to fit in, you’ve got to drink”: Understanding the Experiences of Non-Drinking and Light-Drinking Students at University

  • Hill, K. (Author)
  • Sarah Mansbridge (Author)
  • Amy Watts (Author)
  • Ana Saravanja (Author)

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsOral presentationResearch


Alcohol misuse has significant costs to student health, education, finances, universities and local communities4. However, because much work focuses on preventing misuse in excessive drinkers, little is known about the experiences of university students who consume little or no alcohol1,3. Recent trends in alcohol consumption suggest non-drinkers make up a large part of the study body, with non-participation having great implications for young people’s identity, inclusion and social-cultural practices1,2. We conducted semi-structured focus group interviews with 10 UoN students and a thematic analysis of narratives provided an insight into how non-drinking and light drinking students navigate university lives which promote excessive consumption. Our findings relate to university transitions, relationships and the difficulties students experience as a result of their non-drinking status. Implications will be provided for how universities could help construct an inclusive, safe and responsible campus cultures for all students, regardless of their alcohol drinking status. References 1. Davies, E., Brown, K., Hill, K.M., Johansson, M., & Smith, J. (2020). Alcohol-free events aimed at young people. In: Dominic Conroy and Fiona Measham (Eds). Contemporary Drinking Styles Among Young Adults. 2. Brown, K., Hill, K. M., Smith, J., Johansson, M., & Davies, E. L. (2021). Acceptability of alcohol-free dance in place of traditional alcohol-focused events. Health Education Journal, 80(3), 300–312. https://doi.org/10.1177/0017896920973298 3. Hill, K.M., Pilling, M., & Foxcroft, D.R. (2017). “Everything is telling you to drink”: Understanding the Functional Significance of Alcogenic Environments for Young Adult Drinkers. Addiction Research and Theory, 26(6) pp. 1-8. 4. Penny, G. N. and Armstrong-Hallam, S. (2010) Student choices and alcohol matters (SCAM): A multi-level anaysis of student alcohol (mis)use and its implications for policy and prevention strategies within universities, cognate educational establishments and the wider community. London: Alcohol Education and Research Council.
Period22 Jun 202125 Jun 2021
Event titleThe University of Northampton Annual Research Conference 2021
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionNational