Finding a balance between safe and social

Binge drinking is a big part of university culture for many students. Alcohol consumption can ease social tensions and be healthy – in moderation. After a long week of classes, many students enjoy a few alcoholic beverages to unwind. However, overconsumption can lead to many complications.

Underage heavy consumption of alcohol can have long-term effects on the brain and impede educational achievement throughout adolescence and into adulthood.   

Mount Allison campus liquor policies are sent out to the student body at the start of the academic year. Residence alcohol policies underwent changes at the beginning of the current academic year, and the new regulations restrict underage drinking more than they have in previous years.

These efforts have been enforced by eliminating the option for underage students to purchase drinks at residence parties.

Second-year Campbell Hall residence assistant Keely McGill states that the new rule enforcements came as a shock to many residents who expected to come to university and be free of rules concerning alcohol in residence. However, from a house staff standpoint, McGill believes that this has kept a lot of students safe over the course of the year.

Campbell Hall President Emma Miller also provided valuable insight.  “I believe it has been accepted fairly well by the second years, seeing as it hasn’t affected them, as they are now of age. However, the policy had always been there, just practised incorrectly, and I think it is awesome to see how the residence executives have adapted and accepted this policy into their residence parties,” Miller said.

The many faces of alcohol consumption. Louis Sobol/ the Argosy

However, Miller also pointed out some of the potential issues associated with the new regulations.  “I do also see some negative aspects. Unfortunately this new way of running parties leads to more binge drinking, so I think more alcohol education is in order,” Miller said.

Adam Christie, director of Student Life and international services, is a member of the Liquor Policy Review Committee and is supportive of the recent policy changes.

“It is a change in culture, but we feel strongly that we need to be looking at everything we are doing and looking through the lens of harm reduction and education. We have been working hard with house staff and executive members to promote a positive, fun environment while balancing safety, education and responsibility,” said Christie. “It was a timely and necessary move and definitely one in the right direction.”

While we may think that alcohol can help us relax, we should be aware that it can also contribute to depression and anxiety and exacerbate stress. Alcohol is a depressant that can change our immediate behaviour and potentially trigger long-term mental health issues and psychological disorders.

While having a fun night out with friends can be an energy booster and a great way to socialize, be careful not to rely too heavy on alcohol to improve your mood. It may be the start of a vicious cycle.

A few drinks and good times with friends can be a big part of the social aspect for university students, and these times should be embraced. However, it is important to keep in mind that overconsumption on a single occasion or over a long period of time may eventually place strain on essential organs like the heart. This includes physical damage associated with strokes, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats and stretching and drooping of the heart muscle. Additionally, excessive consumption can cause complications to other regions of the body, such as the liver, pancreas and immune system, and may increase the risk of developing various types of cancers.

When drinking regularly, we can develop a high alcohol tolerance. To keep a healthy mind and body, it is important to keep track of how much alcohol you are consuming on a nightly and weekly basis. By occasionally cutting back and taking days off from drinking, we can discourage risks of alcoholism. It is also important to reach out and find alternative ways to enjoy yourself and relax with other activities to avoid falling into a routine of alcohol dependency.

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