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Avoid excessive alcohol use during March Madness

Guest Opinion
Nickolaus Hayes, Health Care Professional

The NCAA tournament, known as March Madness, showcases some of the best basketball talent in the nation, but for every tip-off, students and fans are likely tipping back an excessive amount of alcohol.
It can be challenging at any time of the year to avoid excessive alcohol use. It can be particularly difficult for someone in recovery or the average person choosing sobriety for their health.
Fortunately, there are practical approaches that anyone can utilize to avoid excessive alcohol use during March Madness and maintain their sobriety.
However, if you know someone struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, they must receive help. Addictions always worsen with time and no treatment.
“Binge drinking is most common among young adults ages 18 to 34, primarily among men,” said Marcel Gemme of
“We have found that adequate preventative information and awareness about the dangers of binge drinking has helped numerous people avoid the pitfalls.”
Avoiding binge drinking or relapsing takes work and awareness, and one can still enjoy March Madness.
Suppose someone is in recovery from addiction or choosing sobriety. In that case, begin by identifying relapse triggers, such as places, people, groups, events or environments. Avoid these and set clear boundaries and limitations.
Manage any negative emotions with healthy outlets such as exercise or hobbies. Attend the game or post-game celebrations with other sober like-minded people. Bring non-alcoholic drinks. Practice saying no when offered alcohol.
Finally, have an exit plan if things become too much to manage, and lean on support such as family, peers, friends or group meetings.
In contrast, suppose someone is a casual drinker of legal age. Stick to one or two alcoholic beverages during the game.
Drink lots of water and have a full meal to avoid drinking on an empty stomach. Avoid drinking games and any environments promoting excessive alcohol use. Do not drink and drive, even if you do not feel intoxicated.
Binge drinking is a method of consuming alcohol that rapidly increases blood alcohol concentration to or above .08 percent. Among men, this may take five or more drinks within two hours, and for women four or more drinks in two hours.
There are significant dangers associated with this type of drinking. The unfortunate consequences negatively affect college students, their families, and college campuses.
While poor academic performance is obvious, the more severe consequences include alcohol poisoning, suicide attempts, health problems, personal injury, DUIs, unsafe sexual behavior, violence, sexual assault, assault and even death.
All of this is avoidable with awareness and prevention.
March Madness offers some of the best basketball in the nation, but festivities should never cost someone their health or future.
Make good choices, stay aware, and be responsible.
Nickolaus Hayes is a health care professional in the field of substance abuse and addiction recovery with a focus on education.

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