Everyone has a friend in their group that can put it away more than anyone else. Maybe you’re that friend! For many men, in many cultures around the globe, a high tolerance for alcohol is associated with masculinity, pride, and competitiveness, things that we as men commonly struggle with. However, the dangers of binge drinking are clear and present. High tolerance for copious amounts of alcohol is not a good thing.
Dangers of Binge Drinking
Anything in excess usually isn’t good, but there can be severe consequences for alcohol. It might seem harmless fun to participate or encourage this behavior, but real problems can erupt from a culture of binge drinking. The truth is that, after a while, a person who drinks in excess can develop alcohol dependence or addiction. These outcomes can destroy relationships, opportunities, and the health of a person who becomes addicted. While your behavior or your friend’s behavior might seem entertaining right now, it can open the door to plenty of devasting consequences.
Tolerance Isn’t Something to Brag About
Some people take pride in the amount of alcohol they can handle. They impress their friends at parties when they drink an entire six-pack. Their friends encourage them to keep going. For once in their life, they feel like a strong individual. On the flip side, your friends might chastise you for having a lower tolerance. “He can’t handle his liquor,” they joke when you’ve only had a couple of drinks, and you feel a little intoxicated. This might make you feel embarrassed, maybe even provoked to prove yourself.
In reality, tolerance isn’t something to celebrate. When it comes to substances, a person’s tolerance level only speaks to the amount needed to feel the effects. Your tolerance isn’t related to your actual blood alcohol content and is not entirely related to your ability to function safely. A person with a higher tolerance simply doesn’t feel the effects of a substance as much as a person with a lower tolerance. It doesn’t speak to a person’s strength, level of manliness, or even level of maturity. It’s just the amount it takes for you to feel drunk or high.
What It’s Doing to Your Body
Binge drinking can lead to serious physical issues over time. Even binge drinking on just the weekends can affect your physical and mental health. You don’t need to drink every single day to develop a problem. Even drinking several drinks on the weekend can affect your physical health by raising your blood pressure, damaging your liver and kidneys, and increasing your risk of cancer. Some studies even prove excessive alcohol use can lead to brain diseases like dementia.
The Road to Alcoholism
Binge drinking can lead to severe problems in the future. Alcohol is easy to become addicted to, especially if used to cope with social settings. If you drink in excess to feel cool or appear a certain way to your friends, this can lead to other dangerous coping mechanisms in the future. Many people who start binge-drinking on the weekends to impress their friends develop a serious addiction in the future. Weekend drinking slowly becomes weekday drinking, and then everyday drinking. It becomes a dangerous cycle as the person struggles to socialize in a setting where they are sober.
Putting Yourself in Danger
Beyond the dangers of addiction, there’s also danger in the myth of tolerance in the immediate future. Many people who believe they have a high tolerance also believe their actions aren’t affected by substance use unless they drink a specific amount. This can lead the person drinking to think that it’s safe enough to perform actions they wouldn’t normally do if they felt drunk. It’s common for people to believe that they are “fine,” only to black out.
This can be scary in situations like driving while intoxicated or practicing unsafe sex, or even socializing while drunk and saying and doing things you don’t even remember doing. Your tolerance won’t matter if law enforcement stops you and your blood alcohol content reads well above the legal limit. It won’t matter if you say or do something you regret, and it won’t matter if you hurt someone else while under the influence.
The Amount You Can Put Away Doesn’t Matter
Drinking a six-pack doesn’t make you a heavyweight champion. It does not affect your strength or level of masculinity. Your ability to consume large amounts of alcohol only means you’ve drunk enough in the past that your body needs more to feel the effects, and that isn’t necessarily a good thing. It only means that you are slowly on the verge of developing a dependency, and that is something you should be wary of.
While some might pride themselves on the amount of alcohol they can drink, it’s important to understand why having a high tolerance for alcohol isn’t actually a good thing. You shouldn’t base your self-worth or the worth of others on how much you or they can handle. Many people might not realize their habits could lead them down the road of addiction. So much of binge drinking culture is normalized, even at a young age, but understanding how this culture tends to be toxic allows you and your close friends to be more mindful of the messages they are perpetuating.
As Chief Executive Officer Bill provides leadership and manage all day-to-day operations of Jaywalker Lodge, an extended care residential addiction treatment program for adult men.