The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    Binge drinking detrimental to health, counselor says

    Adrian Northrup

    It’s a Friday night and you’re at your favorite bar. You’ve had at least five drinks or so, and you keep drinking. Suddenly it’s the next morning. And the last thing you remember was ordering another drink.

    This is what many experts consider binge drinking, a popular activity on college campuses.

    UW-Eau Claire Director of the Center for Alcohol Studies Peggy O’Halloran said the definition of binge drinking is very vague.

    “It uses body size as a factor,” she said. “But it doesn’t give a time frame (for drink consumption).”

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    Brenda Goeptl, an alcohol and other drug abuse counselor at the L.E. Phillips Libertas Center in Chippewa Falls, said most experts consider four drinks in one sitting as binge drinking for women, and five drinks in one sitting for men, but that definition isn’t always accurate.

    “How much is ‘too much’ is different for everybody,” she said. “You can debate what exactly excessive is.”

    O’Halloran said a drink is considered a one- ounce shot of liquor, a five-ounce glass of wine or a 12-ounce mug of beer.

    It takes about an hour for a human liver to break down .4 to .5 ounces of liquor, or half a shot or drink, Goeptl said, citing the Alcohol Medical Scholars Program.

    Binge drinking is very dangerous to a person’s health, and the No. 1 killer of people under 25, Goeptl said. She said alcohol in excessive amounts has the same effects as anesthesia. When a person passes out, their system shuts down.

    “A lot of people think it’s normal to black out or pass out, but it’s not,” Goeptl said.

    Other physical side effects of binge drinking are depression and unintentional self-inflicted injury, Goeptl said.

    O’Halloran said binge drinking can also result in alcohol poisoning or even death.

    “It definitely affects almost every aspect of your body,” O’Halloran said.

    Binge drinking also has other dangerous consequences, O’Halloran said. She said law violations like disorderly conduct and assault are often alcohol-related. Sexual assaults risks also increase with binge drinking.

    According to the 2006 biennial UW-Eau Claire CASE survey, 81 percent of the campus population consumes alcohol, O’Halloran said. This number is 10 percent higher than the national average.

    Eau Claire also has a higher binge drinking rate. Sixty percent of the student body reported participating in binge drinking in the last two weeks, according to the survey. The national binge drinking rate is 47 percent.

    CASE peer educator and junior Becky Blado said she has noticed the impact of alcohol on students.

    “You can see how much alcohol is a part of the culture,” she said.

    O’Halloran said binge drinking and drunk driving are both decreasing at Eau Claire, according to the survey.

    “We’re moving in the right direction, but slowly,” she said.

    O’Halloran said 54 percent of the student population reported drinking moderately in the past week, according to the survey.
    “There are a lot of students who drink responsibly,” she said.

    Blado said there are many ways to drink in moderation.

    “Purchase less alcohol,” she said. “And take a personal reflection of your drinking.”

    Goeptl said people whose personalities change when they drink or who make bad judgments under the influence could have a drinking problem.

    “The impact alcohol has on their life is more important than how much they drink,” she said.

    Goeptl said a person who may have an alcohol abuse problem should be approached when they are sober, and you should tell them how you feel. If necessary, suggest they go see a professional.

    “It never hurts to talk to somebody.”

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    Binge drinking detrimental to health, counselor says