By Paul Belleau
Even though alcohol consumption is legal for individuals in Dallas, Houston or anywhere in Texas who are 21 or over, it should be remembered that alcohol is still a harmful, dangerous drug. Sure, it seems like “everyone” drinks, and sometimes it even seems like everyone drinks a lot. But that’s not really the truth. There are a lot of people who don’t drink at all, and the vast majority of adults don’t drink at all heavily.
What Defines Binge Drinking?
When it comes to heavy drinking, the phrase “binge drinking” comes to mind. It used to mean heavy drinking that lasted for days. Now, the meaning has changed to irresponsible, heavy drinking that often comes under the disguise of fun and games. Binge drinking is not only dangerous to the drinker, but to the people around him or her.
Binge drinkers, by definition:
* Drink “to get drunk.” The goal is to lose control.
* They drink large quantities, five or more drinks at a time.
* They drink quickly.
* They do foolish, potentially deadly things like drive drunk, start fights, and take unnecessary risks.
New Study on an Old Problem.
According to a recent study issued by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University in New York, about half of U.S. college students binge drink or abuse drugs, and the number who abuse prescription medication such as painkillers is up sharply.
The report found that 49 percent of full-time college students ages 18 to 22 binge drink (consuming five or more drinks at a time), or abuse prescription drugs such as painkillers or illegal drugs like cocaine and marijuana. That translates to 3.8 million students.
In 2005, 23 percent of these students met the medical criteria for substance abuse or dependence, the report said. That’s about triple the proportion in the general population.
The percentage of students who drink remained about even with a similar 1993 report — 70 percent then and 68 percent in 2005. Binge drinking stayed at 40 percent of students.
But the proportion of students who binge drink frequently, defined as three or more times over two weeks, rose by 16 percent from 1993 to 2005. Drinking 10 or more times per month rose 25 percent, and drinking three or more times per month rose 26 percent.
Substance abuse has contributed to alcohol-related deaths and injuries, and sexual assaults against female students, the report said. “College presidents, deans and trustees have facilitated a college culture of alcohol and drug abuse that is linked to poor student academic performance, depression, anxiety, suicide, property damage, vandalism, fights and a host of medical problems,” the report said.
The report was based on results of a nationally representative telephone survey of 2,000 students, surveys of approximately 400 college and university administrators, interviews with researchers in the field and other data.
Binge Drinkers can be Troublemakers.
Researchers at Kansas State University have also found that college students who drink alcohol may get themselves into trouble not necessarily because of how much they drink, but because of their risk-taking attitudes while they are drinking, which can be modified to reduce harmful consequences. Males tend to be greater risk takers when it comes to alcohol, while women tend to use more protective strategies. They recommend the following steps to all college students who drink as a way to avoid dangerous drinking episodes:
* Limit the number of drinks consumed
* Use self-protective strategies
* Limit money spent on alcohol
* Drink with friends
* Pour your own drinks
* Develop low-risk attitudes
While the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University report has shown that substance abuse on college campuses is nothing new, it is taking a more extreme and dangerous form, with higher rates of frequent binge drinking and prescription drug abuse, which equates to more negative consequences for students such as arrests and risky sexual behavior.
The Risks of Binge Drinking.
Many people don’t think about the negative side of drinking. Although they think about the possibility of getting drunk, they may not give much consideration to being hung-over or throwing up.
You may know from experience that excessive drinking can lead to difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, mood changes, and other problems that affect your day-to-day life. But binge drinking carries more serious and longer-lasting risks as well.
Alcohol poisoning is the most life-threatening consequence of binge drinking. When someone drinks too much and gets alcohol poisoning, it affects the body’s involuntary reflexes — including breathing and the gag reflex. If the gag reflex isn’t working properly, a person can choke to death on his or her vomit.
Other signs someone may have alcohol poisoning include:
* Extreme confusion
* Inability to be awakened
* Slow or irregular breathing
* Low body temperature
* Bluish or pale skin
If you think someone has alcohol poisoning, call 911 immediately.
Other Health Issues.
Studies show that people who binge-drink throughout high school are more likely to be overweight and have high blood pressure by the time they are 24. Just one regular beer contains about 150 calories, which adds up to a lot of calories if someone drinks four or five beers a night.
Binge drinkers have a harder time in school and they’re more likely to drop out. Drinking disrupts sleep patterns, which can make it harder to stay awake and concentrate during the day. This can lead to struggles with studying and poor academic performance.
It’s possible to be a responsible drinker, but it means paying close attention to your drinking behavior. Adults who do drink responsibly have a few key things in common:
* They don’t drive after drinking.
* They don’t drink “to get drunk.” They may like the taste of the drink, or may be seeking a mild relaxing effect. They stop drinking before they feel “drunk.”
* They drink less – usually far less – than four drinks on any one occasion.
* They drink slowly, often with food, and have non-alcoholic drinks in between alcoholic drinks.
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Article Source: EzineArticles.com/?expert=Paul_Belleau