Everybody knows what happens immediately after you drink too much. You say dumb things, lose your balance, maybe even fall over or vomit on your shoes. Your biggest fear in that moment is probably that someone got you making out with You Know Who on their Snapchat story and the whole internet is going to see it. But what are the long-term health effects if you keep doing this into your 20s and every weekend there after?
Well, health-wise, it’s probably not going to lead to anything good. James Morris, from Alcohol Policy UK, says there are some serious health risks that have the potential to come along pretty quickly. “You do see early or mid-stage liver damage in people in their twenties, and alcohol does kill brain cells, affect your memory and the brain’s longer term development,” he told VICE.
However, he says that in the short term, you’re more likely to experience disruptions in your personal life, such as, “accidents, injuries, arguments, failure to do things [you] are expected to do or planned to do, whether that is work or relationships”. This might be starting to sound familiar…
So, what’s a safe way to drink?
Australian health guidelines recommend that you don’t have more than two standard drinks a day, which is 14 standards a week. This a pretty different picture to the binge drinking stories that are commonly reported by Australian media and by my friends on Instagram.
While some experts say that drinking small amounts regularly is better for your health than not drinking at all, others suggest that not drinking at all is ideal. The danger with drinking a small amount every day is that it can lead to dependence, so you’re more likely to get into a habit of drinking all the time and upping your daily drinks, which could be pretty grim later on. Bingeing occasionally, on the other hand, gives your body more time to rest but it puts a lot of pressure on your organs immediately after the bender.
Essentially, neither option is ideal, but if you’re going to drink, then you should either have a big session not too often or have a casual drink regularly – don’t just party hard all the time.
The Good News
The good news is that Gen Z (people born between the mid ‘90s and the mid 2000s) has a much better relationship with alcohol than Millennials (the generation before) and the generations before. Chloe Combi, who wrote a book called Gen Z, said that while older generations often pressured each other to party really hard, now, “It’s not uncool to say, ‘I don’t take drugs or drink.’ It’s perfectly acceptable now.”
She also claims that we’re much more concerned about our physical and mental health than generations before, which has resulted in more caution with drinking. Good one.
photo cred: whoisipukepink