Lewis Sloan, Features Editor.
Alcohol use in Northern Ireland is not a new phenomenon. It has often been seen as a staple of student experience at University, with pubs and nightclubs offering cheaper deals exclusively for the freshers market. Even cafés centred in student hubs such as Maggie Mays are keen to capitalise on it’s primarily student clientele, offering a BYOB option for customers. When looking at the correlation between alcohol and young people in Northern Ireland – it’s not difficult to see why.
The results of a survey organised by the Department of Health indicated that 82% of 18-29 year olds here drink alcohol. Over half of these had stated they drink at least once a week. Indeed, while not all students choose to drink alcohol, many use it while socialising, or to unwind after a day of study.
However, when the consumption of alcohol becomes excessive, this can lead to a string of both physical and mental health problems. Almost a third of respondents from the survey had stated that they engaged in at least one binge drinking session in a week prior to the survey. Another issue that appears to be on the rise is the frequency of solitary drinking, which increased from 17% in 1999 to 22% in 2013.
Despite it’s illegality here, drug use is also on the rise in Northern Ireland. While the introduction of the Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Act in 2010 has shown to have been effective in the decrease of these substances across all regions, this survey provides evidence that there has been a rise in the current and recent use of drugs like Cannabis and Ecstasy.
The latter made the headlines in November 2016 after the death of Jamie Burns at the QUB Students’ Union. The young man’s father attributed his death to the drug, and ”urged other young people” to avoid such pills.
Clearly, the fact that these drugs are illegal, nor the negative press they receive has been enough to deter people from taking them. As such, it is essential that young people get accurate information on both drugs and alcohol, in order for them to make informed decisions of their own.
This coming week at Queen’s marks the onset of Know The Score – Drugs and Alcohol Awareness Week. The campaign, organised by Student Welfare Officer Jessica Elder, aims “to explain the different types of drugs, their effects, harm reduction and the long and short term consequences of drug misuse.” The week will include a range of both fun and thought provoking events such as a Sober Rave and screening of the movie 28 Days. Below you can find out more information of the event as described by campaign organisers, including times and venues.
Pre-Match Health Clinic
Where: The Speakeasy
”Come along and join NIDACT before the match on Monday 22 January from 5-7pm in The Speakeasy.”
”You will be able to avail of different kinds of holistic therapies such as hair cuts and massage. Plus, try out some alcohol free beers and get a check-up from healthcare professionals including getting your blood pressure and sugar levels checked!”
Where: The Foyer
When: 10 AM
”Come along and meet some organisations involved in campaigning on awareness of drugs & alcohol and supporting people going through addiction or recovery.
Learn all about the different kinds of drugs and their effects on your body as well as getting some tips and tricks with our Alcohol MOT!”
Where: Bar Sub
When: 12 PM
”Come along to our sober rave in Bar Sub from 12-2pm, complete with glow in the dark face paint and glow sticks as well as FREE MOCKTAILS.
Dance away the January blues, uni-stress and have a great sober time!”
28 Days Film Screening
Where: Enterprise SU, Ground Floor
When: 6 PM
”Come along and watch the screening of ’28 Days’ and hear from service users, workers and families out on the ground dealing with addiction and substance misuse.
It will be a thought provoking and insightful night!
Plus, there’ll be free pizza.”