OPINION: Drinking alcohol to cope only makes stress worse

April 12, 2017 — The RedandBlack.com — Stress is a constant life factor for a college student, and many choose to cope by drinking alcohol. Choosing to drink is not a bad thing. It can be the source of a great deal of fun on college campuses when it comes partying, clubbing and bar hopping. It becomes a problem when students drink in an effort to cope with their stress.

A 2004 study on “The Daily Stress and Coping Process and Alcohol Use Among College Students” discovered “students consumed more alcohol on days that had events perceived as relatively more stressful.”   When using alcohol as a coping mechanism, students will often resort to binge drinking. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 37.9 percent of full-time college students had participated in binge drinking in the last month.

Alcohol is a drug, and though in small amounts some scientists consider it a stimulant, in higher volumes, it is a depressant. According to the Drug Free World, high doses of depressants, such as alcohol, can cause irritability, paranoia, suicidal thoughts, agitation or aggression.

If one chooses to consume enough alcohol in an effort to forget their troubles and stress, they might end up feeling worse the next day. You may be able to forget what caused your stress, but your brain and body will remember it still exists.

In fact, alcohol may actually increase your stress. A 2004 study published in the
International Journal of Psychophysiology found
, on average, men who reported consuming alcohol more often had higher cortisol levels than more infrequent drinkers. Cortisol is the stress hormone, and when produced in high amounts, it can cause chemical imbalances that lead to depression and other mental illnesses.

We have so many misconceptions about alcohol due to drug ads, TV or the internet. We believe we understand the true power of it. We have made stress drinking part of college life, as though it is an actual medical solution that can help remove the stress from one’s life. That’s simply not true.  It is easy to assume that a legal substance that alters a person’s perception and makes them feel good could possibly remove stress from one’s life. However, drinking will only increase stress in the long term, causing us to drink even more. We can’t walk through life drunk, especially during exams or on a job.

Students, if they choose to, should drink just to have fun. In times of stress, instead of moving for the bottle, they should take out a nice piece of dark chocolate, go for a run or opt for any other activity that has the power to diminish their stress levels.



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