The most anticipated time of spring semester is quickly approaching for most college students across the country. Sandy beaches and other vacay destinations will be flooded with Jimmy Buffett melodies and beach bums soaking up the long-awaited sunshine. With a week of free time, partying with friends is sure to be expected… it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right? Before you give free rein to a week full of social drinking, it’s important to keep a couple things in mind about your alcohol intake.
What’s the healthy limit for drinking?
This is tricky, since everyone is different. Genes, environmental variables, and diet can all make the impacts of alcohol different from person to person. On average, women should drink no more than 3 drinks per day, while men should drink no more than 4 drinks per day.
What’s considered to be one drink?
Each type of alcoholic beverage contains a different percentage of alcohol, so the amount considered to be one drink varies. Here are some examples of one serving of alcohol:
What are the health risks of binge drinking?
Women who drink 4+ drinks and men who drink 5+ drinks in about 2 hours fall into the category of binge drinking. Although binge drinking is common in college, there are serious and sometimes deadly health risks including:
- Brain damage can result in memory loss, seizures, impaired motor coordination and temperature regulation, coma, and death. “Blackout drunk” is not something you should check off your list of accomplishments during spring break.
- Heart complications such as irregular heartbeats can lead to heart failure or even stroke.
- The liver also takes a beating if you drink too much. The liver is responsible for detoxifying your body, however sometimes the liver cannot process alcohol quick enough which can harm other organs from alcohol by-products.
- Over time the liver may develop a fatty buildup that can eventually lead to hepatitis, fibrosis, and/or cirrhosis.
- The pancreas can become severely inflamed by binge drinking, which causes abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting.
Tips to stay safe over spring break:
- Refrain from underage drinking.
- Drink plenty of water; hydration is key, especially if you will be outdoors.
- Do not mix alcoholic beverages with energy drinks.
- Keep an eye on your drink and never accept drinks from strangers.
- Watch your alcohol intake and know your limits.
- Call 911 or go to the emergency room if you suspect alcohol poisoning.
- Never drink and drive. Take an Uber, a taxi or designate a driver in advance.
So before John Belushi asks if you would like to play beer pong or take a turn on the keg, hopefully you will consider the risk of waking up the next morning with a terrible hangover. After all, part of becoming an adult is knowing how to establish boundaries, especially with alcohol. Take care of your body and have fun over spring break, so you can return safely to campus to finish the semester without any public offenses or alcohol-related horror stories!
Jackie Parker is currently a junior nutritional sciences student on the dietetics track at Texas A&M University.
Photo Credit: LeighAnn Lorenzetti, Jackie Parker, Meghann Hawes,