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Dear V – Binge drinking has both physical and psychological repercussions

Dear V,

I think that I might be an alcoholic. I have been drinking straight for the past two weeks. Whenever I wake up the next day, I don’t feel like myself until I’ve had my first drink of the day. Also, I get really excited before I take my first sip. I usually don’t black out, but then the next day my friends will tell me that I did something that I completely can’t remember doing! It has gotten so bad that I don’t think that having a few beers with my lunch is that big of a deal. Is it a big deal? Should I really be concerned about my behavior? I feel like I’m no different than most people in college.

Happy Hour

Dear Reader,

I think that you might have reason to be concerned with your behavior. How do you have the stamina to attend class or do anything of a productive nature if you’re either always drunk or hung over? Beyond that, think about what you are doing to your poor body! I don’t think that you need me to tell you about the empty calories, the effect alcohol has on your sleeping patterns, your skin and your poor liver.

Though it has become quite popular to refer to oneself as an alcoholic, one could be doing harm to oneself without technically being an alcoholic. For example, any man who consumes more than 14 drinks per week and any woman who consumes more than seven drinks a week would be considered a heavy drinker; not surprising is the fact that approximately 1.9 million people between the ages of 12 and 20 fit the criteria for heavy drinking, and approximately 4.4 million people between the ages of 12 and 20 fit the criteria for binge drinking. A heavy drinker, however, does not have a physical or psychological dependence on alcohol. An alcoholic will actually crave alcohol, not be able to control his or her behavior and also have a higher tolerance for alcohol. Of course, the cornerstone symptom of alcoholism is an actual physical dependence, which will manifest itself in the form of withdrawal symptoms like sweating, nausea, and shakiness when not drinking.

Is there a reason why you feel the need to drink so much? Understandably, heavy drinking is an alluring activity because it allows one to let loose, forget about the stresses of the day, and have a little fun. However, I am not quite convinced that what you are doing to yourself is merely letting loose. Two straight weeks of drinking is an awful lot of alcohol consumption-too much, depending on how much you’ve been consuming each day. Furthermore, the fact that you’re blacking out is also not a good sign. If you can’t remember what you did the night before, chances are high that you did something you don’t want to remember. And, as for your day drinking, suffice it to say that cocktail hour usually doesn’t commence prior to 11 a.m., so if you’re popping back the brewskies before brunch, it might be time to stop, reassess why you’re engaging in such behavior, and possibly consider professional help.

Best of luck!

V.

Fact o’ the Day. In 2000 B.C. the Egyptians used elephant dung as a form of contraception.

Please send probing inquiries to DearV@hotmail.com or drop V a line in her box in the office of The Hurricane. All questions and comments will remain anonymous.

V is a senior majoring in psychology and creative writing.

February 14, 2006

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.