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Solo cups and keggers are the stuff college party dreams are made of, but being irresponsible about your drinking can lead to problems more serious than a clip of your horrible dancing making it onto YouTube. While having a social drink here and there isn't a problem, heavy drinking can have a considerable effect on your health. The consequences are many, but here are a few health issues to consider when you are out on the town.
If you've ever overdone it, you know the following day can be awful. Headaches, vomiting, dizziness, fuzzy thinking and all-around suffering are classic signs of a hangover. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), dehydration is one of the key components to a hangover. While a host of biological functions result in the dehydration, suffice it to say that the more you drink, the more dehydrated you become, and misery the morning after is guaranteed. If you miss class or aren't able to study for a test due to a hangover, you might reconsider drinking to excess next time you go out.
'Beer bellies' are so named because alcohol is extremely caloric. Just one 1.5-ounce shot of liquor like whiskey, gin or vodka contains about 100 calories. Add sugary mixers to the equation, and you can pack a few hundred calories into a single cup of liquid. Beer is no better - even light beers can be 100 calories a serving.
And while 100 calories doesn't seem like much, drinking and snacking can quickly turn 100 calories into 500 (or more). It's understandable that a greasy slice (or two, or three) of pizza or that ridiculously bacon-y cheeseburger might seem like Heaven on Earth while you're buzzed. But, making a habit of indulging your junk food desires will have a noticeable impact on your health, even if you make an effort to eat well most of the time.
Dependence and Abuse
One of the prime reasons to keep your drinking under control is to avoid becoming dependent. According to the NIAAA's 'College Drinking: Changing the Culture' website (collegedrinkingprevention.gov), 31% of students could be classified as having an alcohol abuse problem. So how much is too much? While everyone's tolerance differs, NIAAA reports that moderate drinking can be defined as no more than 4 drinks per day for men (or 14 per week) and no more than 3 drinks per day (or 7 drinks per week) for women. If a person consumes more than this amount in a day or week, that is considered heavy drinking, and you are more at risk of abuse and dependence.
Binge drinking is another matter - this is when you drink so much in a 2-hour period that your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) goes above .08 g/dl. This translates to more than four drinks for a woman and more than five drinks for a man. Physical effects aside, binge drinking and heavy drinking can result in a person participating in some very risky behavior, as detailed below.
Binge drinking while in college is a common enough activity that you might be tempted to think there is nothing wrong with it. However, drinking lowers your inhibition, and alcohol consumption can cause you to think that the stupidest, most dangerous things are a great idea. Drunk driving, property damage, police involvement, personal injury - all of this can factor into a night when drinking gets out of control.
Leaping through a campfire goes from 'heck no' to 'why not' - and could put you in the hospital with 3rd degree burns on your feet and legs. Considerations of sexual health can also go out the window if you're not thinking clearly. Risky sexual behavior could lead you to make some pretty unsafe and illogical choices that will have a lasting impact on your life.
If you want to make your consumption of alcohol more academic, consider a culinary course of study.