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The Mass Media

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Student hangovers shouldn’t be the norm

I have watched too many students show up hungover for classes on Monday morning. This is problematic on multiple levels. It impacts academics, health, and your future.
For starters, it’s very unprofessional. Picture a work environment; someone’s not going to keep their job if they keep showing up to work while obviously facing the after effects of partying hard the prior night. College provides an opportunity to gain experience behaving professionally before we actually are out looking for a full-time career. Part of this should be learning how to arrive every morning as alert and ready as possible.
There is also the fact that you are less likely to achieve recommendations from a professor or good connections through that route if you don’t appear to be taking your education seriously. It goes beyond that though. If you are continuously placing yourself in an altered state during an educational period, then you aren’t taking your education fully seriously.
You can’t give a hundred percent to your classroom time if you’re hungover. You aren’t fully alert. Aside from headaches and nausea being quite distracting, studies on hangovers have also found that symptoms include “impaired cognitive functioning” and “drowsiness as a result of the effect of alcohol on REM sleep” (1). That’s not an ideal state to be in for lectures, discussions, or exams. In fact, “Purdue University reports that 25 percent of all students said that alcohol has affected their grades” (2).
Hangovers are a warning sign of a deeper issue. Many may not want to hear it, but college drinking can be a very serious problem.
Drinking impacts your health, especially at the level that results in a hangover. Alcohol can cause damage to your liver, brain, heart, digestive system, respiratory system, and weaken the immune system (3). This leaves you being more susceptible to illness. Too much drinking has even been listed as a cause or contributing factor for several forms of cancer (4). Alcohol poisoning is a serious concern as well. Many younger people don’t yet realize what level of alcohol they can safely handle.
Some students ignore mental health problems or other issues in their life by “self medicating” with alcohol. I’ve known many people who found it easier to get vodka than to talk to someone about what they were struggling with. This is a temporary solution that can mask the negative feelings, but doesn’t actually solve the root problem.
Lowered inhibitions from drinking can also leave you more susceptible to injury. You commonly hear about people drunk driving, but people have hurt themselves through other means while drinking as well. Ones that have occurred with people I know include drunk fights and injuries from falling over while drunk or tipsy.
“The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says that 599,000 students a year are injured from alcohol abuse and that 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related causes” (2). A minimum of half of sexual assault cases that take place on college campuses involve alcohol usage (5). Out of all the people imprisoned for violent crimes, around 40 percent were under the influence of alcohol when they committed the act (6). Which, by the way, many of you run the risk of facing legal charges regardless, due to underage drinking.
This is a very serious issue. Even if you trust yourself, putting yourself in a regular scenario (such as weekend parties) that involves many highly intoxicated people presents variables that you have no control over. It’s a risk.
College drinking is often portrayed as a rite of passage. It’s romanticized in media and the majority partake in it. There’s a reason why our university makes all students pass through the AlcoholEdu course. I’m not going to tell you that alcohol is evil or that you should never drink in your life. What I will tell you is to question why you are doing it, to what extent you are engaging in it, and whether it’s worth it.
If you are concerned about your alcohol usage, the University of Massachusetts Boston offers many resources. Such resources include alcohol abuse prevention programs, screenings, intervention groups, drug use counseling, and recovery programs. You can find more information on these options by going to UMass Boston’s website, calling 617-287-5680, or emailing [email protected]