by Kirsten Falcone, RN
Alcohol Alternatives for St. Paddy’s Day
St. Patrick’s Day is on a Friday this year, and that means many college students will find opportunities to enjoy the festivities. But, since 21 is the legal drinking age, it’s worthwhile to look at some alternatives to drinking alcohol that could be equally as enjoyable or more so.
First, let’s review a little about drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol is generally not healthful or smart. In fact, the only alcohol recognized as beneficial is one glass (five ounces) of red wine per day for women (two for men). If you do happen to drink beyond what is considered healthful, here are some guidelines to follow:
- One (serving-sized) drink per hour is all your liver can metabolize. If you damage your liver, contrary to hearsay, it does not always grow back to normal. (Think fatty liver and cirrhosis.)
- Serving sizes: If you choose to drink alcohol, be aware of these serving sizes:
- Beer—12 ounces
- Liquor—one ounce
- Wine—five ounces.
- Stay hydrated. In order to prevent dehydration, drink eight ounces of water per hour. (This will also help ward off a hangover the next day.)
- Don’t binge drink, which is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as imbibing five or more drinks for men, or four or more drinks for women, in a two-hour period.
- Designate a driver. Make sure one person is a designated driver, or arrange another mode of transportation.
Some reasons to avoid alcohol: Drinking alcohol damages liver tissue, sometimes permanently. Brain tissue is permanently damaged by drinking alcohol (something to “think” about, if you are a serious college student). It can also lower inhibitions and make you act in a way you would not normally act. Alcohol is a depressant, and so somebody who drinks alcohol regularly is more likely to develop mental health side effects, such as chronic depression. Alcoholic beverages are also highly caloric, with very little nutritional value. If you put junk into your body, you will get junk in return. It is not the best choice for an ambitious college student.
So, then, what are some alternatives to drinking that green beer? Many Web sites address ideas for alcohol-free celebrations. (See below for links.) Here are a few good ideas:
- Attend a mass or church service. Patrick is considered a saint, so this would be appropriate! Learn more about St. Patrick at http://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day.
- Host an alcohol-free party in your residence hall, and substitute green beer with other beverages that are already green, or with green food coloring added.
- Attend a St. Patrick’s Day parade. The parade in Buffalo this year is on Sunday, March 19 at 2:00 p.m. along Delaware Avenue. http://st-patricks-day.com/buffalo-st-patricks-day-parade/
- Dress in green all day (or all weekend).
- Buy an Irish beverage, such as a Shamrock shake or Irish coffee.
- Sip a non-alcoholic beverage if attending a party where alcohol is served. Adding a bit of green food coloring will make it more festive.
- Find a fish fry. Fish fry Friday is hard to miss during the Lenten season.
- Learn how to Irish step dance. There are videos online. Here is one to try: http://www.learntodance.com/irish-step-dancing-online/
- Host an Irish movie night. Suggestions from http://childcare.wvu.edu/files/d/1e9d9345-045b-438f-9f57-da806da298d2/st-patricksday.pdf: “Waking Ned Devine,” “The Snapper,” “Intermission,” “The Crying Game,” “My Left Foot,” or “The Commitments.”
Finally, you’ll be glad you resisted the temptation to drink because it’s much more fun to be in control, you won’t have a hangover when you need to study, you will not be suffering from the consequences of decisions made when under the influence, you will actually remember the fun you had and the memories you made, and your waistline, liver, brain, and overall health will thank you. Making the right choices will empower you and not depress you!
For more information on enjoying an alcohol-free holiday, visit these Web sites:
Alcohol facts and statistics
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Non-alcoholic St. Patrick’s Day Drink Recipes
More Non-alcoholic St. Patrick’s Day Drinks Recipes
Fact sheet about alcohol and your health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Ideas for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day without alcohol
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