It’s a fact, many of us like to drink, I’ll go as far as saying that most of us love to drink in the UK. Data by Drinkaware notes that only 19% of Brits consider themselves to be non-drinkers or hadn’t consumed alcohol in the last year.1 That leaves the rest of us, the great 81% who partake in the forever quenching fermented drink known to us as alcohol, at some point or the other. If you’re in your twenties, a college student, or even a young professional still enjoying your blazing twenties, then getting drunk on the weekend isn’t out of the ordinary. It’s normal, we all do it! However, it is important to figure out how best to get that post-work high and avoid the long-term or even short-term maladies unfortunately associated with binge drinking. If you aren’t in your ‘blazing’ twenties and still like to binge drink it may be time to slow down a bit and consider some innovative ways to maintain your health.
Can you lead a healthy life without giving up on alcohol?
It’s no secret that too much alcohol can make things a bit difficult if you’re attempting to lead a healthy lifestyle. The illnesses and diseases associated with excessive alcohol consumption are well-known, from liver disease, to alcohol related brain damage. Even the social impact of excessive alcohol intake, whether it be accidents, arguments, physical altercations, the associated poor time management (hard to get over that hangover sometimes…), or missing important appointments and obligations, excessive alcohol can have detrimental effects. That probably then begs the question, what is ‘excessive’? How do I determine my limit? We’d look into these questions in much more detail later on. But in all honesty, I don’t think you’re here to read about all of the ailments associated with drinking, but rather how you can get away with a bit of binge drinking a couple times a week. I got you, so here’s how!
How to binge drink safely
First of all, what the hell is this binge drinking!? The term is used often to describe doing a lot of something all at once, for example, binge watching a tv show. When it comes to alcohol consumption there are some indicators which are used by researchers. According to the NHS, UK researchers commonly define binge drinking as consuming 6 units or more of alcohol in a single session.2 Some of us may be thinking, “Oh well…I’m fine then!” Not so fast you! Six unites is actually not six glasses of alcohol. In fact six units is equivalent to 2 – 3 standard glasses (175ml) of 13% strength wine, or 2 – 3 pints of 4% strength beer.
Now it should be noted that everyone’s tolerance level is different, and with this in mind keeping track of your own limit is your own responsibility. However, mere common sense would dictate that a 260 pound 6 foot 7 inch boxing champion like Tyson Fury would have a much greater alcohol tolerance level than say a 5 foot 3 model like Victoria Beckham. Adding a dose of common sense to these estimates would go a long way, so take into consideration your own personal experience and physical capacity.
There’s no authoritative guide on how to officially binge drink safely, but you could be assured that this certainly comes the closest. Consider the following as tips to start with:
- Firstly, avoid drinking and driving – It’s not only unsafe it’s just not cool. When making the decision to drink a lot you’re putting the potential negative effects on you, that’s actually responsible but when drinking and driving you not only put yourself at risk but you also put other people at risk. When driving your mental faculties must be stable, and alcohol makes this difficult.
- Hydrate – Ever woke up from a night of heavy drinking, with no headache, no vomiting, but you’re thirsty as hell!? Yep, call it that “alcohol desert” feeling. It’s that dehydration, one of the most prevalent characteristics of a hangover. While drinking consider drinking water in between shots. In addition, when about to hit the sack after a night of drinking have some water by the bed. One of the effects of alcohol is that it messes with the way our body regulates water levels. That’s why when drinking beer in particular you’re often heading back and forth to the bathroom.
- Know your body – Know how much is your limit. If you’re aware of your limitations (note, this does take a bit of practice (whoo hoo!) ) you’d be better prepared to enjoy drinking without the awful hangover. Keeping track of your alcohol intake gets easier with time.
- Order some salty food before you start – Pizza is one of those salt infused ‘fast food’ options which are great to have on hand after a night of heavy drinking. Fish and chips, a burger, gyros and fries, are just a few great options to offset that woozy feeling after drinking. It also helps keep away that pounding headache come morning time. It’s best to have it on hand before you start the night of drinking. All you got to do when you get back is stretch over and grab that pepperoni pizza and you’re all good!
- Know when it’s time to call it quits – Some of us may let the influence of friends or associates get the best of us unfortunately in this case, but knowing when to call it quits is a skill you should develop. Getting involved in repeated rounds of chugging can be a bit problematic if we aren’t as prepared or simply can’t tolerate high amounts of alcohol intake. Be prepared to call it quits when the shots are becoming too much, it’s not only good for your health but also for your pocket book.
- Bring a phone charger – Usually your phone won’t last the long night of pub crawling or club hopping. Have a charger on hand to keep your phone fully charged will enable you to make calls, message someone to take you home or catch an Uber if necessary. Some people have begun using the technique of taking a picture of every drink that they’ve drunk so as to keep track of the amount they’ve been drinking. Having your phone on hand, fully charged and available would make life much easier.
Furthermore we should add the disclaimer that what’s written here does not guarantee you immunity from any diseases, illnesses, or other ailments associated with too much drinking. You are responsible for knowing your own limits and keeping your drinking in check. However, we’re here to give some advice that can assist in lessening the toll that a couple binge drinking sessions a week can have on your body. There’s a widespread consensus, that for the most part, you’re a bit in the clear during your twenties when it comes to binge drinking. However, moving into your thirties and forties, binge drinking certainly isn’t advisable. In fact, there has been cases of early brain damage found in people in their forties.
Drinking’s better than drugging
Listen, I’m not one to advocate the lesser evil over the greater evil but in some cases it may prove important to point this out. As dangerous as alcohol and its misuse is, I’ve yet to hear any medical professional worthy of his/her title of doctor, or health care practitioner, advocate recreational drugs. With the exception of marijuana, which some may argue is still the subject of much research and debate, it could be said unequivocally that alcohol is a much better social lubricant than drugs – not to mention the question of legality in most jurisdictions across the world.
In these health conscious, fitness crazy times, where gyms are opening up everyday and everywhere, there is still some room for having fun and enjoying some alcohol. As most already know, moderate alcohol use has been proven to have it’s benefits but it doesn’t come without its risks. Although it is argued by some health-care practitioners that alcohol may be best avoided completely, if you are already an alcohol drinker it’s by far a better option than recreational drugs, in addition to those prescription drugs, opioids etc. which are now being widely misused more than ever.
Mixing drugs and alcohol
Another concern is the mixing of alcohol and drugs. This has become a widespread phenomenon especially among well-to-do-youth. A University of Michigan study in the US noted that mixing alcohol with other drugs (prescribed or non-prescribed) can have “unpredictable and unwanted consequences”. From vomiting, fainting or even blacking out, the use of depressants like xanax and valium, or prescription opiates like vicodin or OxyContin can have extremely harmful effects. Research has shown that mixing these drugs can even result in serious breathing issues and potentially long term health problems, maybe even death. Couple this with the fact that it’s also illegal to use a prescription in a manner not directed by a doctor, you should pay close attention to be in-line not only with basic health guidelines but also the law of the land.