There is a broad spectrum of consequences to binge drinking; embarrassment, a criminal record, DUI, injury, brain damage, and death. It’s not just the crazy night out that leaves you waking up ashamed and regretful the next day. That is the best scenario of all the potential consequences. Worst case scenario the volume of alcohol does irreparable damage to your brain and you end up like a vegetable, or worse the alcohol shuts down your organs and you die. A story last year of a young carefree woman enjoying a concert with friends highlights the drastic reality that can come with binge drinking. Hanna Lottritz went from enjoying a music festival with her friends to laying on a trolley at Renown Hospital, Nevada unresponsive with a ventilator breathing for her.
All of us as young people feel that we are invincible and that life is for living. Just one more drink, one more dance, one more song, one more night. We are so eager to live life to the fullest that sometimes our behavior actually jeopardizes our future. But then again being responsible and sensible doesn’t really fall in line with the YOLO attitude that we all want to live by today. But what if I told you that the straight whiskey you chug with your friends or the vodka shots you race down to win the competition might put an end to all your aspirations and dreams of a long, fruitful, exciting life. Hanna Lottritz didn’t want to give in to the guys in her group, she wanted to show she could drink just as much as them and swamped from a bottle of Black Velvet Whiskey. What seemed like part of a good night out changed quickly as she collapsed and stopped breathing. Luckily her friends didn’t leave her to sleep it off, as so many of us do, they took her to a medical tent and she was flown to Renown Hospital in Nevada.
Lottritz spent two days in hospital fighting for her life, suffering from acute respiratory failure and acute alcohol intoxication. Doctors thought that Lottritz was brain dead and her prognosis was bleak. With a blood alcohol level five times over the legal limit her future was in serious question. We often minimize such statistics and downplay the potential consequences; the reality is that such levels of alcohol consumption cause six people to die from alcohol poisoning in the U.S every day.
We all want to enjoy life and have fun, but don’t risk your life for a cheap thrill or a few extra shots. Binge drinking is dangerous and categorized by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention as five or more drinks on one occasion for men and four or more drinks on one occasion for a woman. Instant damage can be done through binge drinking but continuous heavy drinking can also lead to severe health complications and diseases over time. Drinking heavily is defined as consuming 15 units or more of alcohol per week for men and eight or more units for a woman. Review your alcohol consumption and your relationship with alcohol, do not put your life on the line just to have a good time.
Binge drinking is a hugely under recognized problem, one that relevant national agencies are working to bring to the fore in a bid to save lives. It is increasingly problematic among young women like Hanna Lottritz, with women aged 18-34 years of age found to be the largest group of binge drinkers compared to any other age group. It is also a major issue among college students with a culture of partying simply being part of what is expected from college life. We all have a responsibility to examine our behavior and consider the risks for us and those around us when drinking to excess. We may just hurt ourselves, but our drinking could also hurt others such as our family and friends and puts unnecessary pressure on health & policing services. Do not allow alcohol to change your life and rob you of a bright and happy future; drink responsibly, enjoy your night, remember the party and create a new culture among America’s young people.