Here's What A 20-Something's Drinking Habits Really Look Like
The Debrief: From The Student to The One On Holiday, here is what actual 20 something girls drank last weekend
According to Alcohol Concern, more than nine million people in the UK regularly drink more than the recommended limit. And if you’ve ever been to the centre of Newcastle on a Friday night, then you’ll be surprised at how small that figure is. Or any city centre, for that matter. Sunderland. Durham. Other places that aren’t only in the north-east (LEEDS! MANCHESTER!).
But amid the horror stories of binge-drinking females necking 50,000 times more than men (see: news outlets that rhyme with The Shmaily Shmail), what are we all really drinking over the weekend?
We got five different girls, in different situations, to keep a weekend drinking diary to find out. The results vary. But they rarely stayed within the 2-3 unit limit, that’s for sure.
The Weekend Worker
She’s 27, lives in London, has a full-time job as a journalist as well as a weekend/evening job as comedian, and describes herself as ‘someone who can happily not drink for three days before feeling the call of nature and going fucking mental’.
However, this weekend, she was working all day Saturday until midnight and all day Sunday until 10pm, so it was a bit of a more scaled-back two days.
5 double gin and tonics
2 glasses of white wine (large)
Saturday and Sunday:
Hardly the binge-drinking maniac you’d expect from someone who is working in two incredibly alcohol-fuelled industries, but in saying that, she does always drink on either Friday or Saturday. ‘If I don’t get drunk at some point over the weekend, then it’s a very surprising weekend,’ she says.
‘I have an Improv class on Saturday morning and am usually really hungover for it, so Friday is the most likely drinking night. After a week at work you genuinely can’t help getting the Friday feeling. Even if you’ve got no money. All my money goes on alcohol.’
The One Who’s Working Abroad
She’s 29, fled the UK to run education projects in Africa, and spent the weekend at a load of parties. She generally drinks way more since she’s been out there, because of the lifestyle – but doesn’t ever like to feel too out of control.
'I hate hangovers, but I do like to have a G&T or a small beer when I get home in the evening, normally,’ she says. ‘Usually I drink something I like the taste of rather than for the sake of drinking.’
2 large glasses of white wine
2 pints of beer
2 gin and tonics
A glass of wine
A ‘load’ of sangria*
A ‘load’ of Rose wine*
A pint of beer
5 rum and cokes
1 pint of beer
1 gin and tonic
She’s 29, works as an actress, and sometimes feels like she has a tendency to binge – but feels like she can lay off the booze when she needs to. ‘My memory loss has got way worse over the last couple of years even though I don’t drink more than I used to,’ she says.
‘It’s annoying because when I have drunken arguments with my boyfriend, I can’t remember anything the next day whereas he can.’
She keeps track of her drinking, but occasionally throws caution to the wind – like this weekend...
2 glasses of wine
1 bottle of wine
4 vodka sodas
A glass of prosecco
5 glasses of white wine
2 glasses of wine
Quite a lot of units, yes, but she says that this is an average maybe of every other weekend rather than every weekend. She’s also lucky that her boyfriend has a very well-paid job, so he often pays for the drinks.
‘I definitely worry about drinking, but I think a lot of my friends who live in big cities have the same worry. My boyfriend and I are trying to drink less, but the temptation after a long, dry, week is really difficult to resist!’
She’s 22, is at uni in the north east (no specifics to protect her anonymity) and in the middle of exam hell, but just had enough time at the weekend to let loose and celebrate the end of one of her modules. Congrats to the student!
‘I generally wouldn’t say I was a huge drinker,’ she says. ‘During term I tend to go for a drink most evenings, but would only have a really big night about twice a week.’ Of course, because twice a week is tame for a student! God, we want to go back to uni.
Dregs of a bottle of Pinot Grigio Rose (in the morning, yep)
Half a bottle of wine
Three large glasses of white wine
2 glasses of white wine
3 glasses of rosé
A fair few of us who have been students know that this is actually fairly tame when you think about it. But then again, Friday was wayyyyy over the recommended limit. But hey, cheap drinks and student livin’ ahoy.
‘Given that my actual expenditure wasn’t too shocking, I didn’t feel any massive regret on Monday morning. That being said, I’m very glad I gave myself Sunday off.’
She’s 26, away in Melbourne having the time of her goddamn life, which involves shitloads of alcohol. ‘My drinking habits on this trip have been a bit skewed as we’ve pretty much drunk every day,’ she says. ‘Typically though, I hold back and don’t go too crazy.’
5 bottles of beer
1 glass of wine
1 pint beer
1 bottle cider
1/2 bottle wine
1 bottle white wine
1/2 bottle vodka
3 bottles of beer
Units: 31.6 units
2 bottles of beer
‘I often just get sick of drinking – especially when it’s lots of the same thing,’ she says. ‘We had a lot of beer when we were in Asia so I tend to get fed up of it after about four. I guess that means I end up mixing drinks which is kind of OK for me as long as I don’t overdo it and drink slowly over a long period.’
OK so it turns out that us girls can really put it away - especially if we're on one. And yes, it seems that we're drinking too much - but there's also a lot of variety depending on the situation and what sort of person each drinker is. The Student drank way less than The Party-Girl despite the age difference, busting that myth of being unable to hack going out the closer to 30 you get; and the Holidaymaker put away an eye-watering amount of beer despite having fun in the sun, whereas the girl who was working over the weekend drank very conservatively. If still way over the limit. In fact, the one thing they all had in common? They all binged.
Maybe we should keep an eye on this and try drinking consistently rather than in massive surges? Consistently, as in, little and often as opposed to shitloads and occasionally.
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Picture: Anna Jay
*units based on half a bottle of sangria or wine. Elsewhere, based on a medium glass of wine or a single shot of spirit, unless otherwise stated.
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