Health Class: Alcohol and You

Julianna French
jfrench@css.edu

Burrito Monday, Turnt Tuesday, Wine Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday, and F*cked Up Friday. These are the days of the week according to college students everywhere. Monday may leave you with a food baby, but that’s better than being hungover like the other days. This is college, at some point you’re probably going to drink or have already drunk. On television and in the movies you always see everyone laughing, looking all cool, and having fun. Maybe that’s how it actually goes, or maybe everyone winds up puking in the bathroom. What we do know is what happens to your body during and after a night out.

According to the Health Promotion Agency, you’ll begin to feel the effects of drinking after five to ten minutes. The liver breaks down most of the alcohol, but it can only do so much at a time. Within an hour the average liver can break down approximately fourteen grams of pure alcohol, which is the amount in a standard drink. This could be a twelve ounce beer, five ounces of wine, or one and half ounces of distilled spirits. If you drink more than that within an hour it’ll cause your blood alcohol level to rise. Since alcohol is a poison, your body will want to get rid of it through urination. So once you start drinking, be prepared to start peeing.
Once the alcohol hits your brain, it goes straight for your higher brain functions, according to Health Guidance. The first function to go is the part of the brain that regulates behaviour leading to lower inhibitions and poor decision making. Next up, be prepared to experience exaggerated emotions and poor memory formation as the hippocampus is affected. If you’re still drinking at this point, your balance is going to be a mess and people may find it hard to understand your slurred words. At this point you should stop drinking. If you don’t, the part of your brain that controls basic functions (i.e. breathing) is affected and may result in death, which wouldn’t be good.

If you manage to drink too much, but not enough to die, you’re probably going to have a massive hangover. A hangover is basically your body’s way of punishing you for trying to poison it with alcohol. According to the Mayo Clinic, these are some of the symptoms and their causes of a hangover. Remember how alcohol makes you have to pee? Well, increased urination leads to dehydration which can cause lightheadedness and dizziness. It also causes your blood vessels to expand, which is why you feel warm when drinking, causing headaches in the morning. You may find yourself living in your bathroom the next morning because of alcohol irritates your stomach. It causes an increase stomach acid, and delays the stomach from emptying into your intestines. Lastly, it can cause your blood sugar to drop. Low blood sugar can cause fatigue, shakiness, and weakness.
Drinking can be dangerous if done irresponsibly, aka drinking more than what your body can break down. The start of drinking sounds like a good time, but the rest of the night (and following day) kind of sounds terrible.