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Friday, Feb. 23
The Indiana Daily Student


GUEST COLUMN: Avoid heavy alcohol use during March Madness


Editor’s Note: This story includes mention of drug use and addiction. Resources are available here.

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March Madness is one of the most exciting sporting events of the year. Yet, for every tip-off during the tournament, it’s a sure bet students and fans will be using alcohol in excess.    

Binge drinking is most common among younger adults aged 18 to 34. There are significant risks. Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, during March Madness, there is an excessive amount of alcohol being consumed.    

Avoiding heavy alcohol use during the tournament can be challenging, whether someone is in recovery, choosing sobriety or drinking responsibly.    

Fortunately, there are practical approaches that anyone can utilize to avoid the pitfalls of binge drinking and enjoy fantastic basketball.    

Initially, if you know someone struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, it is vital to get them help because a substance use problem worsens with time.    

“Much of the problems involves a lack of awareness and general preventative information about binge drinking or heavy alcohol use,” Marcel Gemme, the Founder of, said. “Students and fans are often unaware of the real risks.”    

Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking in which a person attempts to increase blood alcohol concentration rapidly. Generally, among men, this is five or more drinks within two hours, and for women, four or more drinks in two hours.    

There are severe consequences of binge drinking that are often overlooked. Anyone who binge drinks increases the risk of alcohol poisoning, suicide, general health problems, injuries, unsafe sexual behavior, driving under the influence, involvement with the police, sexual assault and even death.    

The consequences are real. Excessive alcohol use is responsible for 380 deaths per day. It shortened the lives of those who died by 26 years on average.   

Avoiding the pitfalls takes planning. Suppose you are a casual drinker. Stick to one or two alcoholic beverages during the game. Drink water in between and have a full meal to avoid drinking on an empty stomach. Also, even if you do not feel drunk, do not drive.   

In contrast, if you are in recovery or choosing sobriety during March Madness, be aware of relapse triggers. This could include bars, parties and negative influences in your life, such as old friends or acquaintances. It could also involve triggering environments such as the local bar, your hometown or former school.

Suppose you attend some of the festivities. Go to the parties with other sober like-minded people. Bring non-alcoholic drinks to avoid others offering you alcohol. Have an escape plan in place if things become too much to manage, and don’t be afraid to turn down invitations.    

Finally, have support available, such as group meetings, friends, family or other students.    

March Madness is some of the best basketball in the country. Yet, participating in the fun does not have to cost your health or future. Plan ahead. Be responsible and make good choices.   

Nickolaus Hayes is a healthcare professional in the field of substance abuse and addiction recovery. He strives to provide current, up-to-date facts about drug and alcohol abuse to his readers. His primary focus is spreading awareness by educating individuals on the topics surrounding substance abuse. 

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