50% of a Singaporean students' life is dedicated to figuring out how to get into the most popular clubs. There's no reward greater after a hard week of cramming quite like downing tequila shots with friends in the midst of loud, thumping music.
One might think that an alcohol fix is the most efficient way to unwind and get rid of stress, but recent studies are showing that frequently drinking alcohol in your teenage years are limiting the brain's ability to deal with stress.
What happens to your body when it's stressed?
When stressed, your body produces cortisol. This stress hormone helps the body deal with the physical and mental strain you feel when you're stressed. Over time, your body should release less and less of the hormone, as it learns to adapt to stress as you grow older. The way you deal with career-related stress as a working adult will be completely different to how you dealt with exam stress as a student. This is great news.
But in a recent study at Binghamton University in New York, pre-adult rats (whose brains respond similarly to human ones) who drank a lot of alcohol, seemed unable to adapt to stress. They kept producing more and more cortisol, but were unable to bring the stress levels down. This can be harmful, and lead to long-term illnesses such as anxiety attacks and depression. This effect also seems to be higher in males than in females.
Binge drinking damages your body's ability to cope with stress
In Singapore, an average of 18% of males and 12% of females aged 18 to 29 binge drink. As long as you're downing more than four alcoholic drinks in one session, that's binge drinking. And that's typically the amount of drinks just for pre-drinks before heading into Zouk for more drinking!
Binge drinking raises the amount of alcohol in the blood. Levels on a night out partying typically run to 0.08g of alcohol per 100g of blood. This is also the level at which the police will consider you drunk. If you're drinking this amount of alcohol every week, it causes damage to your nerve cells all over your body, but mostly to the brain.
Being a student can be one of the most exciting times of your life, but it is also the time when your brain is going through a lot of changes. This is really cool because you're building the brain you’re going to need for the rest of your life. But if you don't treat it well during this period, too much neural damage from frequent alcohol usage can have lasting effects. And the last thing you want is to go out on a night of relaxing, and end up finding yourself more stressed out instead.
So build a brain that’s going to serve you well as an adult by giving it good experiences, and maybe not go for that extra jug of long island tea.