Drink less, be healthier

Many students are ignorant of the potential effects of frequent binge drinking.

John Grimley

The University of MinnesotaâÄôs Spring Jam and MadisonâÄôs Mifflin Street Block Party both fall on the same weekend this year. While this is a great disappointment to those who planned to go to both of them, it also means that more students at both schools may be drinking more this weekend than any other weekend of the school year.
Mifflin is much more well known for its drunken debauchery and shenanigans, but Spring Jam is no slouch either.
The University does its best to keep students from boozing too hard by putting on exciting concerts (Trampled by Turtles!) and other activities. The fact remains that Spring Jam is seen by many as a time to get tipsy.
Unfortunately, getting tipsy usually means a lot of drinking âÄî the quicker the better. Many of us have seen warnings about binge drinking. DonâÄôt do it, itâÄôs bad for you, yada yada, yada. Yet most of these warnings stop at the âÄújust donâÄôt do itâÄù part of binging, without going into detail about why itâÄôs something to be avoided. Worse still, a lot of people may not understand exactly what it means to âÄúbinge.âÄù
College students and drinking go together as well as vodka and Red Bull, and drinking is a generally accepted part of higher education. Even presidents occasionally get swept up in the atmosphere of drinking and experimenting, as collegiate cheerleader and former President George W. Bush can attest.
Most students who partake in binge behavior do not recognize it as âÄúbingeâÄù but instead as a normal night (or day) of drinking. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, consuming five or more drinks in two hours for men and four or more drinks in the same time for women is considered binge drinking.
This number is surprising: Most people who consider themselves social drinkers can easily down two drinks an hour.
There are reasons binge drinking is highly discouraged. The health effects that stem from binging can be immediate or long term and are almost universally bad.
A long night of drinking can lead to blurry memories and a fuzzy morning. This is a recognized danger of over-doing it on 2-4-1s.
However, blacking out halfway through your third Jager bomb of the night can lead to a lot more unforeseen consequences than just an embarrassing picture or a wicked hangover.
Blacking out can lead to some extremely troubling behaviors, as some people are all too aware. Losing an evening can be as harmless as waking with a bruised shoulder or as severe as waking up in a hospital (or jail cell).
While blacking out is an extreme effect of binge drinking, even managing to keep conscious can still lead to some serious side effects.
According to an NIAA study, more than 600,000 students have been assaulted annually by students who have been drinking. Meanwhile, the same study showed that blacking out makes people very klutzy. According to the study almost 600,000 students have reported they have unintentionally injured themselves while under the influence of alcohol.
Meanwhile, a staggering 3 million students have reported driving under the influence of alcohol, a terrifying thought to people who share the roads as either drivers or pedestrians.
Drinking has also had a profound effect on studentsâÄô academic performance. The same study cited that 25 percent of drinking students admit to missing class, falling behind, failing tests and even failing classes.
Binge drinking affects us in many different ways. The immediate affects are disastrous enough as it is, but new studies are beginning to find that the long-term effects of binge drinking are possibly even worse.
Binge drinking might give you cancer.
A new NIAA study examining the long-term effects of frequent binging found some very troubling associations between cancer and a history of drinking.
According to the study, seven out of 10 people who contract mouth cancer drink heavily. The study also found that people who drink five or more drinks a day on a frequent basis were more susceptible to colon and rectal cancer.
If you combine drinking and smoking, as some are want to do, the study found that alcohol and tobacco combined are responsible for a staggering 80 percent of all throat and mouth cancer cases for men and 65 percent for women.
Aside from the horrifying possibility of cancer, scientists have also found that binge drinking can weaken your immune system.
Alcohol in the blood reduces white blood cellsâÄô ability to combat harmful bacteria, an effect that can last up to 24 hours after getting drunk. A night out on the town could cost you a cold as well as a hangover.
Condemning binge drinking is not the best method for raising awareness; its these long-term and short-term effects. Simply telling someone to stop because itâÄôs bad for him is not an effective strategy to combat the rise of binge drinking.
Instead, students should be made aware of the risks they take when they overindulge. The ill effects of binge drinking will now live on with students long after theyâÄôve left college.