Do you find yourself going Uptown to drink with friends every week and waking up with a hangover?
I hate to break it to you, but technically speaking, you’re engaging in binge drinking.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking is defined as a “pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08% or more.” I can personally attest that this threshold can be easily surpassed during a typical night out. The road to binge drinking often begins innocently enough: a drink or two at the pregame, another couple at the first bar and the cycle continues throughout the night.
Let’s face it; the going out scene at Miami University can be draining. It’s so normalized to consume drink after drink and then be expected to “rally” for the next day’s festivities. Even if you choose to not drink, being out for countless hours and socializing can deplete your social battery like nothing else, not to mention the patience it takes to be around loud crowds spilling drinks on you and shoving you left and right.
With Miami’s drinking culture it’s challenging to have a good time without feeling pressured to drink more than you’d like, or drink at all. We need to normalize the fact that not everyone enjoys the feeling of downing multiple bottom-shelf vodka sprites three nights a week and the uneasiness of excessive drinking.
The physical and mental health consequences of drinking
While college may be the only time when binge drinking is more socially acceptable, that doesn't make it healthy or remotely safe. College drinking comes with a plethora of serious health concerns and consequences, including an increased risk of assault and even death, according to Stanford Medicine.
While these statistics represent the extreme cases, we cannot naively assume that we won’t be affected when we drink each weekend. It’s essential to maintain control and keep track of your alcohol consumption to ensure a safe experience for everyone.
The physical consequences of weekly excessive drinking are concerning, but arguably the most enduring impact is on mental health. Not only can alcohol-induced actions give you anxiety and “Sunday Scaries” for the following few days, this can also spill over into your academic performance.
When the “hangxiety” and emotional hangover are really hitting on Sunday, the last thing you’re thinking about is that exam coming up that week or that assignment that is due at 11:59 p.m. College provides the opportunity to be young and somewhat reckless, but when your drinking habits start to interfere with your education and future plans, it's time to reassess.
The “Scaries” and constant brain fog from the weekend usually last several days for me. When this experience repeats every week, it becomes a vicious loop. However, I have found it can be easily avoided, or at least toned down, by being more mindful of my alcohol consumption and checking in with myself while I am out.
Subverting Miami’s excessive drinking culture
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At a university like Miami, where much of the social activity revolves around a plethora of bars, it’s easy to succumb to peer pressure when it comes to drinking. You might feel lame or different when your friend makes fun of you for not wanting to take shots, but remember, we’re all adults.
If someone ridicules you for not drinking as much or as often as they do, it’s their problem, not yours.
Speaking for myself, staying at Brick Street Bar past 10 p.m. without a drink is challenging due to the chaos of people shoving you as they try to get into the bar. Though it may be tempting to keep drinking in an attempt to drown out the annoying crowds and thoughts of wanting to go home, it’s important to remember that alcohol takes a second to catch up to you. Regularly check in with yourself and ask, “Do I really need another vodka sprite?”
Fun also doesn’t require alcohol. If you can enjoy a night at Brick sober, you’re ahead of the game. The prevailing norm of getting heavily intoxicated and always having a drink in-hand every time you go out can be detrimental to your physical and mental health. With the effects of excessive drinking and looming hanxiety, don’t feel guilty about taking a break or enjoying a night out without drinking.
The culture of binge drinking at Miami has been normalized to an unhealthy extent; it’s time to collectively redefine this narrative. The weekends should be a time to relax and recharge, so if drinking excessively leaves you feeling worse, consider taking a step back. Reduce your alcohol consumption to prioritize your physical and mental well-being — you may discover that you can have just as much fun with your friends with a nice night in.
Your future self will thank you for it.
Halle Grant is a junior majoring in strategic communication with minors in marketing and journalism. She has been writing columns for The Student for two years and also teaches spinning classes at the recreation center.