By: Ashley Tabayoyong
College students are known to be event-specific drinkers. This translates that students in college typically drink large amounts of alcohol and ignore the consequences. In one study, Psychology of Addictive Behaviors by Tammy Chung, a group of 1,124 college students who just turned 21 years old in 2008 were studied for 90 days. It was found that alcohol consumption was greater during events such as New Year’s Eve.
So what is alcohol?
Some may say alcohol is a depressant, others might say it's a stimulant. Alcohol can be viewed as good or bad and is usually associated with partying. But let's quickly look at the science of things and break down what alcohol really is.
Scientifically, alcohol is known as ethanol or ethyl alcohol (Alcohol.org). According to Alcohol.org.nz, ethanol is formed when yeast fermentation breaks down the sugars in different foods. For example, wine is created through the sugar in grapes and beer is formed from the malt in barley (Alcohol.org) As mentioned before, some people say that alcohol can be a depressant or stimulant. This is due to alcohol actually being a "sedative hypnotic" drug which depresses the central nervous system at high doses (Alcohol.org). At lower doses, alcohol can act as a stimulant. This would explain all the nights you might have had doing crazy things and not remembering any of it. Although drinking more alcohol can be dangerous because at higher doses, it can act as a depressant.
What can I drink?
According to Alcohol Research, standard drinks in the U.S. are considered to be:
Listed above are alcohol contents in different standard drinks. How much someone can drink is dependent on various factors, one being gender. Dietary guidelines recommend that women may have 1 drink per day and men can have 2 drinks per day (Alcohol Research, 2018). According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), women should stay within 3 drinks per day and 7 drinks per week to stay at low-risk for chronic diseases. While men should stay within 4 drinks per day and 14 drinks per week (Alcohol Research, 2018).
What if I drink large amounts of alcohol?
The stomach and liver are huge game players when it comes to consumption of alcohol. Since the liver is responsible for the body’s metabolism, it can be interrupted and slowed down when an individual drinks more alcohol (McDonough, 2003). When metabolism in the body is slowed down, then chemical reactions in our body slow down which then affect the maintenance of our body’s cells and organs (Mandal, 2019).
Recently, there have been links of high alcohol intake with obesity. In another 2005 case study, “Patterns of alcohol drinking and its association with obesity,” Arif and Rohrer observed the connection between the two. In a sample of 8,236 of U.S. non-smoking adults, adults who drank were 2x more likely to become overweight or obese.
Here are a couple tips to keep in mind while consuming alcohol this holiday season (Ewoldt, 2018):
1. Keep hydrated! Drink water in between alcoholic drinks.
2. Use low-calorie mixers such as no-calorie lime wedges or tonic water. This will 3. help reduce added calories. Moderation is key.
4. No need to rush to finish your drink. Take your time and enjoy the company of others.
5. Focus on the party. By spending time with others, it keeps your focus away from drinking more. Remember why you came to the party and enjoy the holidays.
My advice is to not stop drinking, but drink smarter.
Alcohol.org.nz. What is alcohol? https://www.alcohol.org.nz/alcohol-its-effects/about-alcohol/what-is-alcohol
Alcohol Research: Current Reviews Editorial Staff (2018). Drinking Patterns and Their Definitions. Alcohol research : current reviews, 39(1), 17–18.
Arif, A.A., Rohrer, J.E. Patterns of alcohol drinking and its association with obesity: data from the third national health and nutrition examination survey, 1988–1994. BMC Public Health 5, 126 (2005) doi:10.1186/1471-2458-5-126
Central Penn Parent (2018). Tips for talking to your kids about alcohol over the holidays. https://www.centralpennparent.com/2018/tips-for-talking-to-your-kids-about-alcohol-over-the-holidays/
Ewoldt, J. (2018, January 18). Alcohol during the holidays: 4 ways to sip smarter. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/alcohol-during-holidays/art-20270845
Neighbors, C., Atkins, D. C., Lewis, M. A., Lee, C. M., Kaysen, D., Mittmann, A., . . . Rodriguez, L. M. (2011). Event-specific drinking among college students. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 25(4), 702-707. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0024051
Mandal, A. (2019, February 26). What is Metabolism? News Medical Life Sciences. https://www.news-medical.net/life-sciences/What-is-Metabolism.aspx
McDonough, K.H. (2003, May 21). Antioxidant nutrients and alcohol. Toxicology, 189(1-2), 89-97. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0300-483X(03)00155-0
Vieira, C.L. (2017, November 3). Are People Really Binge Drinking on Thanksgiving Eve? Upserve Restaurant Insider. https://upserve.com/restaurant-insider/blackout-wednesday-real-heres-people-drinking/
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