A preeminent issue has come forward in my life as a student around the matter of drinking. As a 21, almost 22, year old, I have undoubtedly noticed the excessive levels of drinking that comes with college, in the honor of “celebration” and “having fun”. What exactly is being celebrating here?
Findings by the CDC suggest that, in general, 55 percent of U.S. adults consume alcohol. Seriously? Over half of the adult population partakes in the consumption of a drug that is, literally, a poison?
What is so tempting about alcohol, anyways? Yeah, we all know it is fun to let go and have a good time, throw a few back, forget all the problems. But what’s the benefit of it all in the end?
Scientists have peddled for decades on the health advantages involved with drinking alcohol in limited frequencies. From the aid of keeping our minds bright as we age, to lessening the chance of developing diabetes, restricted alcohol consumption can uplift your energy levels. The question to ask is, how much is too much? Where is the line drawn?
As it may be beneficial to have a glass of wine a night, it can become exceedingly harmful when the alcohol guzzling becomes abusive.
There are different limitations for men and women on indulgent drinking. For men, excessiveness is equated to five or more drinks in one sitting, or 15 drinks during a week. On the other hand, women sit at four drinks a sitting, and eight a week.
This is a shocking amount to be considered “excessive” for what is a “normal” volume in young, and even mature, adult’s drinking habits.
Here’s the dilemma, alcohol is a menacing toxin. Is it worth torturing your body in intemperate amounts for the short-term mask of fun?
The human body recognizes alcohol as a toxin and quickly attempts to “sober you up” with an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase. This enzyme processes through your stomach lining and reaches the liver, where it takes hold of the hydrogen atom in the ethanol molecule of the alcohol ingested. This turns into non-intoxicating acetaldehyde. From there, the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase becomes a catalyzing maid-service for your body, breaking down the acetaldehyde that, when inefficiently removed by aldehyde dehydrogenase, becomes a hangover.
However, when heavy drinking is involved, the enzyme CYP2E1 (an abbreviation for Cytochrome P450 2E1) metabolizes the alcohol, rather than alcohol dehydrogenase. CYP2E1 usually functions in low levels of the body, but is activated by copious amounts of drinking. This powerful enzyme does its work in the liver as well. However, the hydrogen atom is bound to oxygen with its release, and to explain simply, this reaction takes energy rather than producing it.
Metabolizing alcohol through the liver has proven to be the central role of liver disease. Acetaldehyde links to the liver proteins, changing their function and damaging the immune response. The point I am trying to express is that you do not have to be an alcoholic to harm your body; excessive drinking in profuse amounts is enough to impair yourself over time.
*Side note: A full stomach helps to break down alcohol. Not in the sense that it “absorbs the alcohol”, like common knowledge has attempted to teach. Instead, after chomping down on a large meal, your stomach’s pyloric sphincter, a release valve that enters the small intestine, clinches tightly. This stops quick absorption of food in the small intestine, allowing more time for the aldehyde dehydrogenase to soak through your stomach lining. Without sustenance in the belly, the alcohol rapidly moves to the small intestine, which allows around 200 square meters of room for the absorption of the virulent. This is constant dilemma I notice in college, where most people barely have time to eat, and then continue to go out without dinner to binge drink.
But back to the point.
Excessive drinking, past alcoholism and alcohol dependency is viewed as a major public health problem. 29 percent of the population fits the criteria of excessiveness in drinking. The result is 88,000 deaths a year in America alone, from alcohol poisoning and liver disease to accidental deaths. The cost of alcohol in the United States was $223.5 billion in 2006, a perturbing number.
So what does this mean for our society of excessiveness? Where is a solution?
People are borderline dependent on their poison, and we need to think up some tactics to address why we are happier masking the truth of who we are, rather than conveying our authentic selves! Many compare those who drink “over limit” to alcoholism and alcohol dependency, but they are all three completely different animals. These are normal people who have taught themselves that having fun means drinking excessively. Drunken cloud nine comes from muddled opinions of others and a disguise of the drunk’s numbed-emotions.
So, here’s the TRUTH. Create change with a new routine.
If you are someone who excessively drinks, try quitting for 30 days. If you don’t drink, convince someone you know who does. Giving yourself a 30-day period of sobriety is a sufficient amount of time to cleanse your body and reconstruct new habits (of not drinking).
This is an interesting tactic that brings light to the eyes of unconsciousness. Give yourself the chance to have real and heartfelt fun again, showing your sincere emotions, while remembering them! This gives you the chance to connect with others in a meaningful way, as well as conspicuously ameliorating your mind, body and spirit. You will look and feel amazing, inside and out.
Tell yourself you will change your entire life by simply removing alcohol, and watch the rewards reap.