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Alcoholism Help Warnings - summmer drinking warning signs

Published 01/08/2008

The summer months can be an emotional rollercoaster ride for the UK's student population. After the stress of exams comes the euphoria of post-exam festivities. Then there's the anxious wait for results, culminating in a flood of celebrations or commiserations.

But those that start to rely on alcohol as a ‘crutch' to deal with these highs and lows are putting themselves at serious risk of developing alcohol addiction problems, warn specialists at Linwood Manor Group.

"It's no secret that there's a strong culture of teenage binge drinking in the UK and, in student communities, that trend is often particularly pronounced," says Sue Allchurch, research director Linwood Manor Group.

As a result, young people with strong academic records and bright future prospects are throwing it all away by establishing patterns of drinking behaviour that could ultimately lead to alcohol addiction, she says.

"Many students dismiss binge drinking as part-and-parcel of the university experience. But patients of all ages regularly tell me that it was at university that their problems with alcohol began. The alcohol abuse didn't end when they graduated, it simply got worse," she says.

In the summer months, says Allchurch, students need to be aware of how much is at stake if they abuse alcohol. In particular, they should remember:

• You can still have a good time without alcohol. When the weather's good, the summer months offer countless opportunities for participating in fun, alcohol-free activities, from hill-walking to a simple game of football in the park. And the long summer vacations are a good time to catch up on other activities that may have fallen by the wayside while you were revising for exams: seeing that film you missed, reading that book you bought ages ago, or trips to the theatre or art gallery.

• Excessive drinking won't make celebrations any better. A drink can make you feel more relaxed and confident in social situations, but you could quickly become reliant on alcohol as a social crutch if you don't cultivate alcohol-free ways of dealing with shyness or insecurity. And excessive drinking that leads to slurring, stumbling, tears, aggression or vomiting doesn't make anyone more attractive or more popular.

• Abusing alcohol means gambling with your future. Even in the short term, alcohol abuse takes it toll. Recent research into the academic performance among second-year university students from Edge Hill University showed a strong correlation between alcohol consumption and lower marks. In fact, alcohol was shown to be a far stronger predictor of academic performance than entrance qualifications and IQ. In the long term, alcohol dependency could seriously hamper or even destroy your hopes for the future, putting a fulfilling career and healthy relationships beyond your reach. "Your student years should be a positive, constructive time. Have the courage to say no to excessive drinking and make building your future the priority instead," says Allchurch.

If you would like help, contact the Alcoholism Clinic at Linwood Manor.

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