“The rise of the teetotal student,” and what Mencken might say about it.


H.L. Mencken once commented on teetotalism.

Teetotalism does not make for human happiness; it makes for the dull, idiotic happiness of the barnyard. The men who do things in the world, the men worthy of admiration and imitation, are men constitutionally incapable of any such pecksniffian stupidity. Their ideal is not a safe life, but a full life; they do not try to follow the canary bird in a cage, but the eagle in the air. And in particular they do not flee from shadows and bugaboos. The alcohol myth is such a bugaboo. The sort of man it scares is the sort of man whose chief mark is that he is scared all the time.

H.L. Mencken, “Alcohol”, Damn! A Book of Calumny, 1918

Concurrently there’s nothing surprising about the rise of the teetotal student, and I’ve no criticism to make of it. Abstinence absent compulsion (for the rest of us to do the same) is just fine, and those who choose to drink should so so responsibly. Cohabitation is good.


‘I’m not spending money on that’: the rise of the teetotal student, by Suzanne Bearne (The Guardian)

Universities are seeing an increase in teetotal clubs and alcohol-free accommodation. Why are students drinking less?

… A rising number of young people are abstaining from booze, with 36% of 16-24 year-olds in full-time eduction not touching alcohol, according to a survey by University College London. Dr Linda Ng Fat, lead author of the study, believes that an overall decline in drinking has made it more acceptable for young people to shun alcohol. “It seems that non-drinking is becoming more normative, which could make it easier for more and more young people not to drink, should they choose to.”