Whether you drink a beer or two at a ballgame, have a few at a party or club or save all your drinking for weekends, most people who drink regularly drink more than they think. What type of drinker are you?
The good news is you only drink when you’re hanging out with friends. But if you hang out with friends a lot, well, do the math. Drinking a couple of nights a week adds up fast. If you are of legal drinking age, one drink a day for women and two for men is the in the healthy zone.
Everyone gets stressed out sometimes. But some college students reach for a drink whenever they’re stressed about anything, and that isn’t such a good idea. If you rely on alcohol to deal with stress, you could be setting yourself up for alcohol dependence. Using alcohol as a means to forget daily hassles or “deal with” one’s problems is one of the strongest predictors of developing long-term alcohol problems.
According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking is drinking more than four drinks for women and five drinks for men on any one occasion, usually within two hours. It’s not that much different from high-risk drinking, except that binge drinkers drink more often. Binge drinking can lead to many health problems, including but not limited to alcohol abuse and dependence; car crashes, falls, drowning and burns; violence; and chronic diseases such as cirrhosis, pancreatitis, various cancers, high blood pressure and psychological problems. Binge drinking is the most common type of excessive drinking in colleges, but less than one in four students engage in consistent excessive alcohol drinking such as this.
Many times a person has grown up in dysfunctional families where physical and/or sexual abuse has occurred; where there is neglect and deprivation; where the parents are over-involved but under nurturing; where significant traumas have occurred; where destructive divorces have destroyed families; or where parents are poor role models. Sometimes these individuals get through adolescence pretty much intact but with weak social skills. They may run into devastating break-ups, divorce, horrific accidents, traumatic military experiences, depressive losses of family and friends and personal failures. They develop emotional disorders like depression, rage, obsession and anxiety, borderline personalities and self-harming compulsions and suicidal thinking. When these individuals don’t seek help to resolve these chronic and delayed emotional problems, they often find that alcohol, prescription drugs and recreational drugs give them some relief, numb feelings, help them dissociate negative feelings, fill inner emptiness and make them temporarily “happy.” In other words, these individuals find quite by accident that they can “self-medicate” their emotional pain away. Unfortunately these solutions are temporary and their “cure” usually leads to alcohol or drug dependence or addiction and all the ill health effects associated with their use.
Do you drink even though it gets you into trouble at school, at home and with your friends? Do you frequently have more than four or five drinks in a night? High-risk drinkers drink in spite of negative consequences—doing something you’d regret or forget, messing up at school, getting into trouble with the cops or hurting a friend—and they drink a lot. If you are starting to think that the consequences are beginning to outweigh the benefits, it might be time to consider making some changes.
Did you drink your dinner again last night? You could be a drunkorexic—a growing group of mostly college-aged women who starve all day to make up for the calories they consume in alcohol. Never mind that drinking on an empty stomach is a sure invitation to trouble. Drunkorexia is a serious eating disorder just like anorexia and bulimia. They all can cause serious health problems if you continue starving yourself—possibly to death. Few women engage in this practice, but it is important to know that it can be dangerous.
Recently the Department of Health in England concluded that heavy drinkers tend to fall into nine basic personality categories. A College Candy writer interpreted the findings in this college-friendly way. Could one of these personalities be you?