Negative experiences of non-drinking college students in Great Britain: an interpretative phenomenological analysis

Lisa Jacobs, Dominic Conroy, Adrian Parke

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Research relating to alcohol use amongst university students primarily examines the effects of binge drinking. Researchers rarely focus on a range of drinking styles including light or non-drinking. This study was designed to gain an in-depth understanding of the lived experiences of female, first year UK undergraduates, who do not drink alcohol. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight participants. Narratives were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA; by Smith and Osborn (Sage 51-80, 2003). Three superordinate themes were identified: “managing the feeling that you don’t belong” highlights the importance of managing social interactions as a non-drinker; “experiencing social exclusion” recognises the impact on social bonding as a result of insufficient socialising opportunities; and “experiencing peer pressure and social stigma” highlights the scrutiny and labelling participants endured. These findings provide an understanding of some of the difficulties experienced by these undergraduates as a result of their non-drinking status. Implications of this research are discussed and areas for future research are outlined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)737-750
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health and Addiction
Issue number3
Early online date4 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Interpretative phenomenological analysis
  • Alcohol
  • Non-drinking
  • College students
  • Females

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