Alcohol is one of the most commonly abused substances in the United States.
Because alcohol is legal, many assume that the dangers associated with use are minimal. People often use alcohol as a means of coping with social anxiety and as way to build relationships with others. While it is possible to consume alcohol in a safe manner, the reality is, many young adults engage in dangerous drinking behaviors due to peer pressure and misconceptions made popular by mainstream media. These dangers are increased significantly thanks to the popularization of drinking games. While on the surface drinking games appear to be nothing more than playful competition and fun social games that encourage camaraderie, they actually encourage individuals to consume copious amounts of alcohol in a short period of time, causing individuals to unknowingly engage in binge drinking. Over 80 percent of college students admit to engaging in drinking games, and with the growing presence of drinking games in bars and clubs during “game nights,” the dangers of drinking games are often overlooked, putting many at risk of injury, assault, and even death.
Binge drinking is the act of consuming large amounts of alcohol over a short period of time. For men, this is defined as five or more drinks in a 2 hour period; for women, four or more. Binge drinking is dangerous in a number of ways—especially for young people—because of its effect on neurological, physical, and emotional health. Binge drinking can cause a number of adverse effects including attention and memory problems, difficulty controlling impulses, poor decision-making, and difficulty processing emotions. In addition, binge drinkers are more likely to experience injuries and violence. One study of 4,000 binge drinkers found they are more prone to aggressiveness and more likely to engage in fights. In the long-term, binge drinking puts individuals at risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, metabolic diseases, and type 2 diabetes.
The Dangers of Drinking Games – The Glorification of Alcohol Abuse
The introduction of drinking games has made binge drinking more common than ever. There are countless games that have become popular among young adults, and even more drinking games created on a whim for the sole purpose of getting people heavily intoxicated. The problem with drinking games is that many people participate without realizing the consequences until it’s too late. In drinking games, you are often not in control of what you drink, how much, or for how long. Failure to comply with the rules of game lead to ridicule, making it difficult for individuals to just say no. This can prevent an individual from knowing when to cut back and makes them more likely to become impaired and in an unsafe situation. For women, this can be especially dangerous. Data gathered from two separate studies found that 44 percent of men listed having sex as a reason to participate in drinking games—one-fifth of men surveyed admitting to taking sexual advantage of another player following a drinking game, while 19 percent admitting to having intercourse with an individual who was too intoxicated to consent.
NekNomination – Internet Drinking Game
The Internet has now become a new ground for drinking games due to the latest craze called “NekNomination.” This drinking game is the latest in a slew of challenge videos appearing on social media and it is easily one of the most dangerous. NekNomination has reportedly claimed the lives of five young men in the United Kingdom and experts are worried that as it makes its way into the United States, more young lives will be lost. The game exhorts teens and twenty-something young adults to film themselves downing large amounts of alcohol (“necking”) and post it on social media pages like Facebook and YouTube. They then nominate friends to try and “outdo” them within 24 hours and upload a video as well. The game has led to shocking behavior–some teens drink out of a toilet bowl, while others mix their alcohol with a goldfish or dead mouse. Some have gone so far as to perform dangerous stunts after consuming alcohol, including one man who strapped a camera to himself and jumped off a 90-foot bridge. If those who are nominated do not comply, they are ridiculed. The game has evolved and spread like wildfire among young adults who feel invincible and are looking for their 15 minutes of fame.
Alcohol Poisoning – Know the Signs and What to Do
Binge drinking and drinking games can lead to alcohol poisoning, and the notion of individuals needing to simply “sleep it off” has led to countless alcohol-related deaths. Drinking too much alcohol can be lethal and alcohol poisoning presents itself through a number of symptoms. If an individual is vomiting, semi-conscious or unconscious, confused, has a low body temperature or blue-tinged skin, it is important to get them to a hospital right away. Symptoms are intensified and worsened by the presence of other illicit substances or medications. Thousands of young adults end up with alcohol poisoning every year and many die as a result of it. Even more young adults die due to unintentional alcohol-related injuries every year. Increased awareness surrounding binge drinking and the influence of drinking games can open young adults’ eyes to the dangers associated with alcohol abuse and help them understand the difference between enjoying a casual drink and excessive consumption.