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"The Sunny Side of ""Binge"" Drinking"

There's something about the term binge drinking that makes students imagine a Greek party or tailgate, and parents want to home school their kids right through college. What most people don't realize is that binge drinking isn't usually what you think it is and more people are binge drinkers than you would imagine.



The definition of binge drinking is having four or more drinks for a female, or five for a male, over about a two-hour period or on one occasion, one evening, for example.


Guys, does it take 30 minutes to finish a beer? If you answered yes then your beer is warm and you're a binge drinker – kind of a sissy, too. Ladies, if you happen to toss back four raspberry vodka and sodas while on Fourth Avenue, they might try to make you go to rehab. I guess that beer and those two whiskey and rocks I order at the bar will make me a social pariah, not to mention sick. Don't mind me, I'm just binge drinking. Someone get the beer bong, I want to see how much alcohol I can cram in me.


According to the strict definition, my parents are binge drinkers if they go through more than a bottle-and-a-half of wine in a night over dinner. Not to mention those professors who like to get some pizza and a few or a dozen beers at 1702 after a long day of professoring.


By the way, the list of great people throughout history that could be considered ""binge drinkers"" is a long and distinguished one indeed. The list is impressive with figures like Ernest Hemingway, the recently deceased Ted Kennedy, Jack London, Homer Simpson, and the famous Captain Jack Sparrow.  One of the greatest leaders of our time, Winston Churchill, drank at almost every meal and his visit to the White House caused former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to write for the Atlantic, ""It was astonishing to me that anyone could smoke so much and drink so much and keep perfectly well.""


No one ever mentions the several positive aspects of ""binge"" drinking. For example, the huge contribution binge drinkers make to the economy. The person who gets paid and then goes and spends his earnings at a local bar or restaurant is recycling money. It's a beautiful thing, but if there was no binge drinking consider the impact that would have on the businesses surrounding the UA.


All the bars, restaurants, Circle K's, fraternity houses, and other hang outs would be boarded up.


Not only do these businesses service the UA community, but they also often employ its students. What would they do for money, or how would those people pay for school if their job was suddenly no longer necessary, or if that group of college students didn't come in and tip their $1 per drink?


And what would the UAPD do without binge drinking? Liquor violations constitute more than half of all arrests made in 2008 with 484. That's because underage drinking is a crime that not only generates tens of thousands of dollars in revenue from fines, but it is worth taking so much time to stamp out for good.


Unfortunately, the numbers suggest that underage drinking is at an all-time high, and the more drinking in a safe campus environment, like in a dorm room, leads to arrests and fines, the more students are going to  go elsewhere to do it, actually creating a more dangerous situation. The more you forbid something or strictly enforce a rule, the more people are going to rebel. Can anyone say ""abstinence education only?""


This leads to the real injustice of the whole thing; the fact that 18-20 year-olds cannot legally drink alcohol in America. If you can have a job at 16, be emancipated by 18, vote for president at 18, go to prison for life, or even to war to fight for the rights of American citizens, all at age 18, shouldn't you be entitled to all those rights? If 18 really is the age when children legally become adults isn't it time to treat them like adults?


The common misconception is that binge drinkers are alcoholics when they are not. While alcohol has a sad history of being abused by a minority of those who enjoy it, it is, like guns, neither good nor bad and can more often than not be pleasurable and useful in a person's daily life. In fact, a Harvard School of Public Health long-term study showed that men who drank moderate amounts of alcohol three or more times a week had a 30-35 percent lower risk of heart attack than those that didn't.


The key when it comes to the consumption of anything is moderation, and I think the occasional ""binge""  isn't as bad as society makes it out to be. Who wouldn't want to cut through awkward social moments with the help of liquor and postpone the awkwardness until the next morning?


Ultimately, criminalizing alcohol, as well as many other things, is easier than educating the people on responsibility, but that doesn't make it right. So go ahead and enjoy future tailgates, where the vast majority is binging. I know I will.



- Chris Ward is a junior majoring in English. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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UA COVID-19 Test Tracker

Daily (12/4)
744 14 1.9%
Total (8/2)
64,794 1,040 1.6%
Includes tests since August 2, 2021
Data from https://covid19.arizona.edu/updates
Updated December 5, 2021