The Morning Advertiser reports on a survey which claims that Millennials feel five times more likely to be pressurised into drinking alcohol when socialising than older generations. Now, this has to be taken with a considerable pinch of salt, as it has been produced on behalf of a maker of low- and zero-alcohol punches, but it completely flies in the face of my own experience.
I would say that, over the past twenty years, the pressure to drink alcohol on social occasions has greatly reduced, and in many situations not drinking has become the norm. This is particularly the case with anything connected with work, after hours as well as at lunchtime. Indeed, it is often the person who chooses an alcoholic drink who stands out and ends up being stigmatised. When visiting friends and relatives, you are much less likely to be routinely offered an alcoholic drink than you once were.
Back in 2002 I asked Can a responsible person ever be seen with an alcoholic drink in their hand?
Twelve people from my workplace went out to the pub one Friday for someone’s birthday. Apart from myself and one other, it was a round of ten Diet Cokes, including one for the person who was supposed to be celebrating. Anyone would think that a pint of bitter or a glass of wine would have them throwing up over the boss or copying their backsides on the photocopier. Is it any wonder that the licensed trade and the brewing industry are in such a bad way?And it certainly hasn’t got any less so in the intervening years.
It would be interesting to be given examples of precisely in what kind of situations people do feel pressurised into drinking, as I really don’t see this at all. One area where this is often mentioned is in social life in higher education institutions, but they provide a huge range of activities, most of which don’t involve drinking in any way. The fact that someone has organised a Carnage pub crawl doesn’t mean you’re under any obligation to go on it.
The article says that people don’t drink alcohol on two out of three social occasions, so the pressure can’t really be that intense. If they truly were having their arms twisted to drink, surely we wouldn’t be seeing so many pubs closing. And, if you really don’t much care for drinking, but most of your friends seem to do nothing else, maybe it’s time to find some new friends.
In reality, this is an example of the common phenomenon of something attracting more criticism as it becomes less popular. We have seen exactly the same happening with smoking. Forty years ago, there undoubtedly would have been more social pressure to drink, but nobody complained about it back then.