It's back to school time! And for many high school and college students, it's a time to experiment with alcohol. For adults harangued by work stress, parenting, or political mumbo-jumbo, it might be time to chug a glass of wine. For authors waiting to hear back from agents or publishers, it's time to drink. A lot.
My question for you is: If you choose to drink alcohol, how do you get the good stuff without the bad stuff? (Aren't you lucky I'm writing this blog post between psychotherapy clients?)
I've learned a lot about extracting buzz, relaxation, and fun from alcohol (while avoiding hangovers and beer goggles) from the amazing University of Washington researcher Dr. Alan Marlatt. He and colleagues published an interactive journal titled "CHOICES" related to the information in this book.
...and I want to pass along some golden nuggets to YOU.
First of all let's talk about the choice to drink alcohol. Did you know about 20% of college students don't drink at all? (The percentage of non-drinkers older than college age is undoubtedly higher).
And for the students who do drink, most drink responsibly (fewer than 6 drinks a week)? If you believe everyone drinks in your crowd, then you probably have a skewed group of friends.
If you do choose to drink alcohol, what are some pros and cons about drinking? I like to drink to feel giddy and/or relaxed, particularly in social situations. But I don't like headaches or fatigue.
What you might notice about your pro/con list is that the stuff you like comes from LOWER doses of alcohol, whereas the stuff you dislike comes from HIGHER doses. So the secret to getting the good stuff from alcohol is sticking to a limit--about 1-2 standard drinks for women and 2-3 standard drinks for men.
So what's a "standard" drink? One hint...it's smaller than a keg!
*12 oz. beer
*10 oz. microbrew
*4 oz. wine
*1.25 oz. 80 proof liquor (a shotglass)
For the average sized man, each standard drink raises his Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) by .02. So he could have three drinks in an hour and be under the .08 legal limit for driving.
But for the average woman, each standard drink raises her BAC by .04!!! That's because women have less water, more estrogen, and are typically smaller. Women can easily hit the legal limit for driving with just two drinks in an hour.
For every hour, our body removes about .015%. Therefore, if I drank 5 glasses of wine right before going to bed at midnight, my BAC would be .20. If I subtract .015 each hour, then it won't be until 2:00 the next afternoon until the alcohol completely leaves my body. If I wake up at 8:00 a.m. and think I'm hungover, I'd still technically be drunk (BAC = .08)!
If you want the nice buzz and social facilitation from alcohol, drink up to a BAC of .055 and then stop. That's the best alcohol has to give you and you won't feel any better if you keep drinking. For women that's 1-2 drinks; for men that's 2-3 drinks.
.055 is known as the "point of diminishing returns".
So have that drink or two, feel the buzz, then move on to enjoy your evening! *cheers*
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