Friday, September 04, 2015

Young People Are Drinking Less

The ancient Greek philosophers, such as Plato, used to write about the benefits of doing things in moderation. For example, drinking too little water can lead to dehydration while drinking too much water can lead to water intoxication.

Not exercising can lead to obesity and heart disease whereas excessive exercise can lead to injuries. There are some instances, however, where there are no benefits of moderation. For example, even a moderate amount of tobacco or asbestos exposure can be deadly whereas no exposure to these substances is the healthiest option.

What about alcohol, however, which is one of the most frequently abused substances throughout the world? It is true that some people cause great harm (e.g., liver damage, financial ruin, relationship breakups) to themselves through alcohol abuse and binge drinking (episodic excessive drinking) and need to dry out now. Others avoid alcohol completely, which is known as teetotalism.

While complete avoidance of alcohol is not harmful, some people may be surprised to discover that there can be benefits to moderate alcohol consumption such as a lower risk of heart disease, greater longevity, improved libido, protections against the common cold, decreasing chances of dementia, decreasing chances of diabetes, and decreasing chances of gallstones. Thus, even with alcohol, a moderate level of consumption can be helpful. Moderate alcohol consumption is defined by up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men,

There is evidence that young people are drinking less alcohol than in the past, at least when it comes to binge drinking. For example, research in England through the Office of National Statistics shows that binge drinking at least once a week decreased from 29% in 2005 to 18% in 2013. The same study showed that when young adults did chose to drink alcohol that they chose to drink less and more than a fifth of those surveyed denied drinking any alcohol at all. The latter is also a slight increase over time. The reasons for this trend are likely cultural such as the effects of public health campaigns, increased use of social media, and religious beliefs. Whatever the explanation, the ancient Greek philosophers would surely approve.

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