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Letter to the Editor: March Madness and Binge Drinking

During every tip-off of March Madness, it’s a sure bet that students and fans will consume an excessive amount of alcohol. Many individuals attend tailgate events, house or bar parties and post-game celebrations.

While participation in the tournament positively impacts every school involved, it can have some adverse effects. Students and fans are exposed to the influence of excessive alcohol consumption.

While many feel it is harmless fun, there are significant dangers associated with binge drinking. It can also be challenging for people in recovery or anyone choosing sobriety during this time. Fortunately, there are practical ways to stay sober or choose to drink responsibly.

First, if you know someone struggling with an alcohol or drug addiction, it is imperative to intervene and get them help. Addictions become worse with time.

“Binge drinking or heavy alcohol use is most common among younger adults aged 18 to 34,” said Marcel Gemme of “Unfortunately, there can be a lack of awareness or preventative information available to help people make responsible decisions.”

Binge drinking is defined as a pattern of drinking alcohol that rapidly increases blood alcohol concentration. Generally, among men, this is five drinks or more within two hours, and for women, four drinks or more in two hours.

Staying sober, avoiding excessive drinking, or drinking responsibly is challenging for many people, regardless of March Madness. Yet, there are practical ways to help.

Suppose you are a casual drinker of legal age. Stick to having one or two alcoholic drinks during the game. Consume water between each drink. Have a full meal to ensure you are not drinking alcohol on an empty stomach. Also, do not drink and drive even if you do not feel intoxicated.

In contrast, if you are in recovery from addiction or choosing sobriety, it is vital to plan ahead. Initially, recognize and identify relapse triggers, such as bars, parties, negative influences, individuals, groups of people, or environments. Set clear boundaries for yourself. 

Have a method of managing negative emotions that arise because of these triggers. Attend the viewing parties with other sober like-minded people. Bring non-alcoholic drinks. Have an exit plan if things become too much to manage. Finally, ask for help if you are struggling.

There are severe consequences associated with binge drinking. Excessive alcohol use is responsible for roughly 380 deaths per day. Among those who died, excessive alcohol use shortened their lives by 26 years.

Individuals are at risk of alcohol poisoning and various other health problems when they partake in binge drinking.

The dangers associated with alcohol will always outweigh any benefits one might believe. If you choose to drink, do so responsibly. If someone is struggling or has a substance use problem, do not delay getting them help and support them through a difficult time.

March Madness showcases some of the best up-and-coming basketball talents in the nation. Everyone wants to celebrate the success of their school. Yet, it is crucial to keep in mind that being part of the fun should not cost your health or future.

Nickolaus Hayes

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