Relieving Stress with Alcohol May Increase Stress Later

Relieving Stress with Alcohol May Increase Stress Later

“I don’t drink every night; I’m just having fun with my friends!” or “We’re celebrating tonight, so let’s go big!” or “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!”

Have you ever said or thought any of those statements?

When you can’t immediately see the negative consequences that go along with your actions, it is very easy to make the leap to “if nothing bad is happening now while I’m young, then my actions won’t cause any negative consequences in the future as well…right?”

Wrong. In regards to alcohol abuse and binge drinking during adolescence, the exact opposite has proven to be true.

Binge drinking is defined as consuming more than four or five drinks in a single session. According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 36 percent of youths between the ages of 18 to 20 reported at least one binge-drinking episode during the past 30 days. The majority of college students are between the ages of 18 and 20, and with finals right around the corner, many will turn to binge drinking as a way to let loose and try to take away from all the stress final papers and tests bring. However, many don’t realize that while they may feel as if they are relieving stress now, in reality they may be shaping themselves up for even more stress among other negative consequences in adulthood, as a result of binge drinking.

The findings from a study done by researchers from the Loyola School of Medicine, suggest that alcohol exposure during puberty permanently alters the system by which the brain triggers the body to produce stress hormones. In essence, exposing young people to alcohol could permanently disrupt connections in the brain that are normally formed during puberty and are necessary to ensure healthy adult brain function.

In addition, teenage binge drinking has also been linked to damage to one’s prospective memory. Prospective memory is the cognitive ability to remember to carry out an activity at some future point in time. For example, you use your prospective memory when you remember to pay your rent on the first of the month.  Imagine forgetting to pay your rent on time and getting evicted from your house or apartment. How horrible would that be?

And it doesn’t stop there; these examples are only two on a long list of ways in which binge drinking as an adolescent can affect you well into adulthood. Other negative consequences that may occur in adulthood as a result of binge drinking include:

  • An increased risk of anxiety
  • An increased risk of depression
  • An increased risk of stroke or heart-related death in men with high blood pressure
  • An increased risk in developing alcoholism
  • Face social exclusion as adults
  • Find themselves with a string of criminal convictions in adulthood
  • An increase in the risk for hemorrhagic stroke

When you reach for the bottle the night you finish your finals take a minute to think about your future.


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