Binge drinking: How one bender can affect your health

Students discuss binge drinking at Mt. A

According to Maclean’s magazine, Mount Allison is the top undergraduate school in Canada – but we all already knew that. Another Maclean’s study suggests that Mt. A is seventh on the list of top party schools in Canada, claiming that the average Mt. A student parties for approximately 4.6 hours per week.

University is notorious for its drinking culture. The change of lifestyle and newfound freedom can be dangerous for some students. Some events in particular, such as Homecoming, entice students to drink more than safe drinking habitats would recommend.

Andy Hebert has been the manager of the Pond for the last five years and offers a course called Smart Serve, which is mandatory for residence executive teams, Event Service Staff and the Pond’s bartenders. This course provides them with knowledge of the laws, roles and responsibilities associated with serving alcohol, with the goal of keeping students safe.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines binge drinking as “a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 per cent or above.” Typically this happens when someone drinks a lot of alcoholic beverages in a short amount of time with the goal of getting drunk, which can prove dangerous due to the way liquor affects the human body.

Typically when binge drinking, you are drinking a lot of liquor really quickly before it affects your body. “You think you can take more and then by the time it does hit your body, all of a sudden you are really drunk, and your sense of reasoning is lost,” Hebert said.

“Those who drink four to five drinks in one sitting – doesn’t matter day or time – they’re considered to be binge drinking,” Hebert said. As a rule of thumb, people should drink no more than one or two drinks an hour.

Many students also realize the risks associated with binge drinking. Shannon Dill, a co-social chair of Harper and a second-year geography student said that for her, university drinking wasn’t much of a culture shock. Dill, who is from Bermuda, said, “Where I come from drinking is a big part of our culture, so I didn’t really feel the peer pressure.”

However, Dill said she has observed the influence of peer pressure on students. “If everyone is telling you to have one drink, you’re going to have five drinks in an hour,” she said.

Shae Carroll, a third-year sociology student, plays for the women’s rugby team. The team has a 48-hour no-drinking rule before games. All of their games are on Sunday, which means they cannot drink Friday or Saturday nights, when many students might be drinking. Carroll said she understands the reasoning behind these rules.

“If you drink a lot, it’s very possible to wake up and still not be okay,” Carroll said. “I think for safety reasons a lot of sports teams should have more than a 24-hour drinking rule. It should be 48 hours to get things out of your system.” Carroll said safety is the biggest reason the rule is in place but also mentioned that having 48 hours to drink water rather than liquor helps to prepare athletes for games.

Both Carroll and Hebert said talking about binge drinking is the way to dissuade students from putting themselves in harm’s way.

Hebert said that planning ahead can be a useful strategy: “If you average one to two drinks and you know how many hours you’re going to be out, you should know how many drinks you need.”

He also suggested discussing plans with friends, and “making sure that everyone is on the same page [in terms of] what you would like from the night.”

Carroll asserted that “If you are going to drink, you should be smart enough to know your limits and know how to say ‘no.’ ”

Emma MacMillan
Emma MacMillan is a second-year student from Moncton, New Brunswick. She is studying psychology with a minor in French. She does synchronized figure skating and plays field hockey. Emma also enjoys hiking and spending time with her puppy.