Drinking Booze — Unsafe?

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A new study on alcohol consumption warned of the dangers of drinking by younger people. The study printed in the Lancet reported that there were no health benefits from alcohol consumption in people under 39. An American Association for the Advancement of Science press release stated:

Young people face higher health risks from alcohol consumption than older adults, according to a new analysis published in The Lancet.

The analysis suggests that for young adults ages 15-39, there are no health benefits to drinking alcohol, only health risks, with 59.1% of people who consumed unsafe amounts of alcohol in 2020 between ages 15-39 years and 76.7% male.

The proliferation of bars that primarily serve the University of Alabama‘s student community have business models that depend on drawing students in. Low prices on drinks during “Happy Hours,” or even during other times that the bars are open, promote student drinking.

BMC, part of Springer Nature, in 2014 published a study about how young adults’ drinking behaviors change in the presence of happy hour specials. The study said:

Women, students under 21, non-athletes, members of Greek-affiliated organizations, more affluent and unemployed students, and students living on campus were more likely to change their drinking behavior in the presence of happy hour specials. In general, the most robust predictors of negative events are gender, alcohol use frequency, age of alcohol use onset, and increasing drinking due to happy hours/bar specials.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has published its concerns about college drinking. According to the NIAAA, binge drinking by college students is a major problem:

Drinking at college has become a ritual that students often see as an integral part of their higher education experience. Some students come to college with established drinking habits, and the college environment can lead to a problem. According to a national survey, almost 53 percent of full-time college students ages 18 to 22 drank alcohol in the past month and about 33 percent engaged in binge drinking during that same time frame. For the purposes of this survey, binge drinking was defined as consuming 5 drinks or more on one occasion for males and 4 drinks or more for females. However, some college students drink at least twice that amount, a behavior that is often called high-intensity drinking.

There was some confusion during recent discussion during a Tuscaloosa City Council meeting about the approval of a Gastropub. In 2021, as reported by WVUA‘s Jabaree Prewitt and Erin Patterson, the Council enacted new laws that would limit the hours that bars that serve food could operate. Some Council members had questions about under-aged drinkers being allowed on the premises.

Under the new laws, some restaurants that have always morphed into bars, such as Innisfree, would be grandfathered in. Any new Gastropub would be have to be approved by the Tuscaloosa City Council before it could operate.

The possibility that alcohol will be sold during University of Alabama athletic events was reported by The Tuscaloosa NewsNick Kelly. During the early months of the football season, temperatures at Bryant-Denny Stadium can be searing. Heat indexes of as much as 107° F have been experienced in September.

Beyond the long term dangers of chronic alcohol consumption, the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) has warned about alcohol use during hot weather. Savannah Koplon wrote:

“It is tempting to want to cool off with an adult refreshment; but in temperatures like we see here in Alabama, it not only creates a false sense of hydration for folks but simultaneously causes quick onset feelings like impairment and disorientation, which can be amplified quickly by the sun,” said Sarah Nafziger, M.D., vice president for Clinical Support Services at UAB Hospital.

“Alcohol notoriously can make someone feel full, but we really caution people to not mistake feeling full and having fun with signs of dehydration and eating proper filling meals,” Nafziger urged.

“The body uses sweating to cool itself; but with extreme temperatures, high humidity and a high heat index, body temperature can rise to dangerous levels,” said Marie-Carmelle Elie, M.D., chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine in the UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine. “Older adults, young children and those with preexisting conditions are at highest risk; but anyone can develop heat-related illnesses under the right conditions.” 

Booze has been around for a long time. It has played a significant role in the history of Western Civilization. According to Britanica, warnings against the “evil effects of excessive drinking” were present in Greek, Hebrew, and Roman cultures.

Today’s medical community has provided a scientific basis for the ancient warnings. One thing is highly likely. When the first kickoff in Bryant-Denny Stadium takes place in September, it will occur during a hot time in T-Town.


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