January 13, 2013

Come On Girls—No More Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is bad. Most of us know this, but what most of us do not know is what constitutes as binge drinking. According to an NPR report, consuming more than four drinks in a single session is considered binge drinking for women while five or more is binge drinking for men. The physiological differences in gender lend toward women being more affected by alcohol.

For years, the focus of binge drinking has been on men and boys because they are more likely to binge drink; however, that left women and girls unchecked. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are now putting the focus back on women and girls, says a redOrbit article.

The women’s health issue of binge drinking leads toward other women’s health issues including, but definitely not limited to, sexually transmitted diseases, unintentional injuries by accident or violence, liver disease, breast and other cancers, reduced cognitive function, alcohol dependency, and unintended and alcohol-exposed pregnancy. Women who binge drink more than four drinks in one setting are more likely to experience these issues, some of them completely preventable.

None of the health issues women expose themselves to due to binge drinking should be ignored. If women are binge drinking, and the CDC shows that approximately 13 percent do so on a regular basis (and a more compelling statistic is 1 in 5 high school girls binge drinks), then they are more likely to experience serious health issues. We must do something about this.

Moreover, women are binge drinking on more than just beer; they are moving into experimenting with distilled spirits and the stronger forms of alcohol. Obviously, any form of alcohol in excess is dangerous, but more potent alcoholic beverages affect women more dangerously and faster. Part of the problem for binge drinking is marketing. Alcoholic beverage companies and the industry as a whole market to women with drinks known as alcopops, or chick beers, but even spirits and liquors are marketing to women more. We must fight the marketing manipulation.

Now, I am not a prude nor do I abstain from drinking. I do enjoy a glass wine, a good beer, or even a nice cocktail on occasion. This blog is not some crusade of mine to get people to stop drinking alcohol. I appreciate a nice drink sometimes. But, and this is a pretty big but, our health is far more important than any pleasurable taste in beer, wine, or cocktails. Furthermore, binge drinking is dangerous on so many levels, for men and women alike.

First of all, when we binge drink, our judgment is impaired thus we do things that we normally would not like become violent or promiscuous. We even say things we do not mean at all simply because our inhibitions are down and, in some cases, completely disabled. This means we will have regrets and apologies, both physical and emotional.

Secondly, when we binge drink, we put serious stress and harm on our bodies and organs. This means that our kidneys and liver work overtime to expunge the toxins. This also means that we put ourselves at risk for liver disease and cancer later in life.

Third, when we binge drink, we guarantee that the next day is shot due to a hangover. Not only do we have the physical ails of headache, nausea, exhaustion, and general achiness, but we will also have the fuzziness of brain, anxiety, and even stress. These simply are not worth that fifth or sixth drink.

redOrbit reported that the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism advises that women should not drink more than three drinks per day and no more than seven drinks in a week’s time. This will lead to less binge drinking, less violence against women due to alcohol, and fewer instances of health issues later in life. Enjoy a drink or two, but stop there. Our health and lives depend on it.

Image Credit: Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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