Ellingson: Knowing your limits essential to celebrations

Caitlin Ellingson

The semester is almost over, and for many students, that means one thing. It’s officially time to party with friends and forget about the stress of school for a while. And why shouldn’t you enjoy your break? After making it through nearly 16 excruciating weeks of constant tests, assignments, presentations and lectures, you probably deserve it.

The fleeting time between semesters is seen as an escape for many that goes by too quickly, and as with just about any other break from school, alcohol is never far away.

Drinking alcohol is not a new concept and has been around since the dawn of time. Of course, that is exaggerated, but you get the idea that it has been a significantly long time since the very first unknown moment alcohol was ever put into someone’s system. Evidence has been found of fermented beverages in ancient beer jugs that go back as far as 10,000 B.C. during the Neolithic period, and wine appeared in Egyptian pictographs as early as 4,000 B.C.

So, after all this time, why are people still so ignorant about its effects?

There is a wide range of side effects associated with the intake of alcohol that vary for each individual. It can be something as simple as a headache the next morning or as horrific as brain damage or death. So, let’s not pretend that alcohol is ever completely safe for anyone.

It is up to you whether you think the consumption of alcohol is a good or bad thing to participate in, and people have their own personal reasons for each side. But, as with anything, you should know what you are getting into if you do decide to drink.

There are many factors to each effect of alcohol that a person feels, but a lot of it has to do with how much you drink and how frequently. Most people experience common short-term effects while drinking that are similar to euphoria, where they tend to feel a general improvement in mood and a bit more energetic. They tend to become more social and confident and let go of their inhibitions due to their impaired judgment. As you drink more, you will probably experience dizziness, blurred vision, vomiting, difficulty standing or walking, and other less-than-desirable effects.

As you drink alcohol, your body absorbs it into the blood, and your state of impairment can change quickly because of that. So it’s important to know your limit. You can go from a “happy state” to all of a sudden blacking out if you don’t pay attention to your intake.

The effects and intensity of consuming alcohol varies from person to person, but women in general tend to have a lower tolerance to alcohol compared to men. In most cases, if you’re a woman, you probably shouldn’t try to “drink a man under the table.” That will rarely work out in your favor, and you’ll probably end up drinking way more than you ever should and looking very attractive as you vomit the excess alcohol all over the place.

The percentage of alcohol in your blood is commonly known as blood alcohol concentration (BAC), and it’s usually measured by mass per volume. There are legal limits to how high your BAC can be, which changes depending on where you live. If you are under 21 years old in Iowa, you can have up to a .02 percent BAC. But, let’s be honest; that is equivalent to a fraction of a can of beer, and if you’re caught driving, you’ll be set up with some wonderfully expensive operating while intoxicated (OWI) charges.

If you are over the age of 21, you can have up to a .08 percent BAC, but it’s still not recommended you drive. Once again, it’s important to know your limit and use common sense when deciding if you’re good enough to drive home. For those of you who are heavy drinkers, you should note that a BAC of .40 percent is enough to give someone alcohol poisoning and could possibly cause your untimely death.

But, in the end, it doesn’t matter how for or against it you are. Alcohol isn’t going to just go away as history has proven with how long it has been around. If you’re going to drink and celebrate your freedom from school after finals are over, you should at least be smart about it and use common sense.