Sober October: a 'drastic reassessment' of uni drinking culture


By Leah Martindale, Film & TV Editor

The Croft Magazine // When I decided to go ‘Sober for October’ it was a spur of the moment decision. Inspired by the world’s vilest hangover - Epigram socials are no joke - I shakily created my Macmillan account, and waited for the good karma and liver stability to roll in.

Over time, I justified the decision with other reasonings: I would save money, be healthier, maybe even lose some weight. It might clear my skin, and give me some energy back. Most importantly, I would hopefully contribute towards help for cancer patients to ensure no one had to suffer the grief I did as a child.

The month has been a challenge in a number of ways. House parties, birthdays, socials, dates, and my friendship group’s weekly tradition of Wednesday Wine and Whine - very cathartic, would recommend to anyone… I was inundated with excuses to give up, sack it in, and go back on the wobbly and wide (what is the opposite of straight and narrow?).

My first party approaching, I felt a weight in my stomach. With my friend back from his year abroad, I felt a mounting pressure to be my usual effervescent, outgoing - aka messy - self. With no crutch to fall back on in the early mingling stages of the event, I felt out of place, and out of sorts. By the end of the night, however, being driven back by my equally sober friend, I felt a sense of pride I could not quite pin-point.

I could never be described as shy or retiring, unless in a hilarious joke I shouted ironically across a room full of affronted and newly deafened strangers, but even I need a little boost occasionally. Without my usual tipple to get the inhibitions loosened, I had to fall back on good old fashioned conversation and communication.

In the iconic words of Pamela Shipton, I can jabber with the best of them, but I have learned that I have been relying too much on, to be frank, absolute spangled nonsense. Arriving at events and being hounded to recite embarrassing stories I didn’t realise I’d shared so publicly was a sobering realisation - pun intended. Networking at a BBC event recently reminded me how easily conversation can come to me, and in some ways I am saddened by the truly tragic impressions some people must have of me.

I'm not drunk, I just look like this | Epigram / Leah Martindale

Of course, I saved an inordinate amount of money. Even with a spike of the flu that caused an influx in my takeaway consumption, I have realised that I was spending less than planned weekly. By no means will I be staying sober for good, but a drastic reassessment is needed of how readily I’ll splurge on momentary happiness and forget to save for the long term joy. I know, I know, I sound like a mum.

One thing I did not anticipate was the upward spiral on my mental health. Not being hungover, tired, and broke all the time will do wonders for your brain. Even at times when I felt anxious, or left out, the mental clarity afforded by sobriety has a calming longevity I hadn’t felt for an embarrassingly long while. Feeling lighter, sharper, and having a completely settled intestinal tract has sky-rocketed my dopamine intake like a month long getaway.

At the end of the day, university is a drinking culture that is unavoidable. It is rife throughout media, film and television, and freshers folklore passed down through academic years. I am grateful for the reminder of just who I am without the all-too familiar alcoholic buzz, and I am looking forward to getting back on the lash with a newfound clarity, and probably shockingly lower tolerance.

Featured image: Julia Nastogadka

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Leah Martindale

Part-time Film & Television MA student; full-time Instagram storier, and ABBA enthusiast; amateur film critic. Can always be found writing from bed.