Dr John Larsen welcomes positive trends revealed by The Alcohol Issue
Hype Collective’s latest report on changes in student culture has revealed some encouraging developments – and Dr John Larsen, former Director of Evidence and Impact at leading alcohol education charity Drinkaware, has shared his reaction to the findings.
The Alcohol Issue features the results of surveys and focus groups with university students across the UK. One conclusion is that today’s students are drinking less alcohol than previous generations did as young adults, due to shifting social norms and an apparent decline in peer pressure, as well as an increasing awareness of alcohol’s impact on physical and mental health.
“I agree that overall we’re seeing a trend of young people being more health-conscious,” Dr Larsen told Hype Collective, “and that there’s generally less of a ‘laddish’ culture than in previous decades. Your report states that a third [of students polled] had tried an alcohol-free beer – that is hugely significant. Just a few years ago, that proportion would have been considerably smaller. Low-alcohol and alcohol-free drinks are a less obvious choice for cash-strapped students, as many prefer a cheaper soft drink or plain water.”
Dr Larsen was, however, keen to emphasise that there is more work to be done.
“We have found there’s still a need to address inappropriate behaviours related to drunkenness,” he explained. “That’s why we have been campaigning in relation to alcohol-fuelled sexual harassment, and developed our Drinkaware Crew scheme to help protect and safeguard vulnerable individuals.
“A significant challenge is the old-school alcohol advertising that continues to promote excessive drinking and laddish behaviour among young people.
“But perhaps there could be more emphasis on the positive, emerging trends we are seeing and how these can be further promoted.”