There’s a perpetual plague sweeping the nation; it affects both young and old. The epidemic comes in liquid form, from a tap or a bottle, on the rocks or mixed in a mixed drink with a garnish like a cherry or a lime. We’re not talking about omnipresent soft drinks like Coke or Pepsi, although that fizzy can of worms comes with its own perils. We’re talking about alcohol.
Otherwise known as booze, the sauce, hooch, or liquid courage, in chemistry labs it is known as ethanol – a depressant that has a very powerful effect on the central nervous system. Quite frankly, it’s something that people don’t often take into consideration when out socializing at a bar or club. Both short and long term effects come with that shot of tequila or vodka tonic. Under its influence, even shy wallflowers may become more aggressive and animated, throwing inhibition to the wind. Hopefully, the revelers are within stumbling distance, as judgment becomes impaired and coordination and their newly found speech impediments won’t make it easy to smooth things over with the police. For many, the fun doesn’t stop the following morning, with hangover symptoms like headache, thirst, dizziness, fatigue, and nausea. Depending on whether enough alcohol was consumed to counterbalance the Prozac and Zoloft, there’s always the potential for regrets accompanied by a lengthy walk of shame.
However, these are just temporary effects. The continuous use of alcohol over a period of time is usually where the human body takes its biggest blows. Simply having one beer a night can add more than 1,000 calories per week, which is roughly 15 extra pounds per year. With that increased weight comes severe health risks such as high blood pressure and hypertension. Recent studies show that with alcohol consumption there is a higher risk of certain cancers, such as breast, throat, and intestinal cancers. According to the University of North Carolina, two to four percent of all cancer cases are related to alcohol. Studies also show that about half of the following can be attributed to alcohol intake: cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis, sexual impotence, sleeping disorders, and viral illnesses and infections due to impaired immunity, among others.
Taking all of this into account, add incidents of drunk driving and other poor behaviors, and you get over 100,000 U.S. deaths a year, 97,000 sexual assaults and date rapes, and a whole host of other issues. And if hitting you in your brain or your stomach or liver isn’t enough to give you pause, maybe this will. It is estimated that the average college student will spend approximately $900 on alcohol this year. Whether it’s the diminishing size of your bankroll or your liver, how much is too much? According to many sites, the human liver can really only process one drink an hour, of course varying with gender and weight.
With the end of the semester coming up we all will be looking to celebrate in different ways. So whatever the poison of choice is at the next happy hour, no one says that you can’t have fun. But keep this knowledge in mind and drink responsibly. You never know what hidden charges and markups will make their way onto your tab.