We overheard this conversation when a couple of our members were walking across the university campus yesterday:
“You had to be there! I was so blasted I can’t remember a thing!”
“Ha! You got nothing on me man, last weekend I was at ….party and I finished off a bottle of JD with ….! I can remember puking on the sidewalk but I have no clue how we got home. ”
The boys, barely legal if indeed they were, slapped each other on the back and grinned as their buddies nodded their heads in camaraderie.
While college campuses worldwide would hardly consider this a rare moment, this conversation brought up some very important considerations. When parents are warning their daughters of destroyed reputations and their sons of wrecked cars and wrecked futures, we know few who would think to mention a fate just as possible, just as potentially devastating as the worst of those scenarios.
Binge drinking induced brain damage is often overlooked in studies that are focused on long-term effects and not immediate repercussions, but over the past ten years a number of experiments have started to change this focus. Back in 2002, Fulton T. Crews, director of the University of North Carolina’s Center for Alcohol Studies, headed a study that determined a significant amount of brain damage within two days of heavy drinking that increased with each day of use. He speculated that the damage done to the frontal cortex which is involved in decision making, could explain the transition from drinking for fun to becoming an alcoholic.
A more recent study from the UK Stroke Association found that binge drinkers (six drinks or more in close succession) had their chances of suffering a stroke doubled. This potential isn’t limited to a certain age group and the risks apply to both men and women. With long term damage ranging from lack of motor control to complete loss of speech or movement, this risk makes a hangover look like a minor inconvenience.
For more information on how to education yourself and those you care about on the hazards of binge drinking, here are some useful links:
College Drinking Prevention
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Image: Jon Sullivan