Many have experienced the morning after a big night out — nauseous and parched, unable to get out of bed but finding it hard to sleep because your head hurts. Many of you may be feeling this right now; others know that you will experience it by the end of this Halloween weekend. Binge drinking, although bad for you, is a regular aspect of social interactions in college and a common cause of these hangovers. Drinking in moderation or not at all is the advice to take to avoid hangovers, as well as other detrimental health effects of alcohol.
Binge drinking, which is excessive drinking to the point of intoxication, differs for genders but causes the same effects in both men and women. Women consuming four or more drinks and men consuming five or more drinks in a two-hour period is considered binge drinking, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The institute also says that most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent, and although in college it’s all around us, it is bad for our health.
According to the institute, about 4 in 5 college students drink, including nearly 60 percent of students aged 18 to 20. Colleges vary widely in their binge drinking rates, but the Princeton Review has deemed UT a party school for many years and with 50,000 students, that calls attention to a great number who drink.
Everyone has heard about the issues related to drinking alcohol before — increased risk of injuring yourself or others, greater risk of liver disease, heart disease, possible weight gain and alcohol poisoning, among a slew of other problems. A recent article in the Journal of American College Health relates alcohol use to impeding college students’ academic success. Students tend to think about the present effects of alcohol rather than the harmful effects alcohol may have down the road.
“I think we know we’re binge drinking, but it has become normal to us,” said kinesiology senior Amanda McDermott. “I think ignorance is bliss for a lot of college kids.”
Nutrition professor Nomelí Nuñez’s laboratory studies the interaction between alcohol consumption, body fat and breast cancer. He has found a positive correlation between alcohol consumption by pre-menopausal women who are susceptible to breast cancer and predisposing the woman to breast cancer. He advises women who are susceptible to breast cancer — meaning a mom, sister, aunt or grandmother has had it — to stay away from alcohol or do regular self check-ups if you’re not willing to give up the alcohol.
Many students are not willing to give it up because in college, alcohol is a part of many social gatherings.
There are safe ways to enjoy alcohol, and the key is moderation. However, many college students overdo it when drinking on the weekends because of stress during the week. Alcohol causes people to become more self-confident or daring, their judgment is impaired and some may have trouble with fine movements. Drinking more may cause some to feel sleepy, have trouble understanding or remembering things, not react to situations quickly and to be highly emotional — aggressive or affectionate. Some students look forward to this lack of control since the rest of student life is so scheduled, busy and stressful.
“Halloween falls right when things are heating up with school and it’s getting to the end of the semester and, starting November, if you haven’t gotten it together by now, now’s the time to do it,” McDermott said. “So a lot of people will drink a lot to forget about all the things they have to do and Halloween is an excuse to do that.”
If you’re planning on drinking this Halloween weekend or sometime in the future, consider drinking in moderation — no more than three drinks for women and no more than four drinks for men on a single occasion. Remember that a drink is 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor.
Alcohol may relieve stress and cause good feelings for a time, but at some point you’re going to have to face your stressors. Continually drinking to avoid them may lead to alcohol dependency problems.