Starving to Get Easily Drunk is a Dangerous “Thing” in the Dorms

Campus drinking trends are dangerously veering into eating disorders.

Saturday is Kim’s favorite day. There’s always a great party to go to. As a college sophomore, she hasn’t quite reached the legal drinking age, but that doesn’t stop her (or her classmates). What’s holding Kim back from binging on booze is her concern about the calories involved. She is determined not to go up another pants size. In an effort to make up for the nearly 1000 calories she takes in from several cans of her favorite beer, Kim chooses not to eat lunch or dinner on Saturdays.

Jerry attends the same parties that Kim does, but has a different concern. He is a senior and has been drinking heavily for years. As a football player, he’s also a pretty big guy. His alcohol tolerance and his size make it hard for Jerry to feel the effects of alcohol very quickly - or much at all - unless he drinks a frightening amount. He’s discovered that, if he skips meals like Kim does, he can increase the effects of alcohol and become the life of the party a lot faster.

Kim and Jerry are part of a recent behavior trend among college students known as “drunkorexia.” To increase the effects of alcohol or to reduce calorie intake, coeds are reducing their food intake, engaging in bulimic-type behaviors or over-exercising. These activities may take place before, during or after drinking binges.

The Dangers of Drunkorexia

This pattern of drinking poses several risks:

  • When Kim and Jerry drink on an empty stomach, the alcohol has a quicker and stronger effect. While this is what Jerry wants, the decreased inhibition can lead to behaviors with negative consequences. Breaking the law, STDs and unwanted pregnancy are some of the most common.
  • Limiting caloric intake to alcohol also leads to poor nutrition. Alcohol has none of the vitamins our body needs. With a diet made up of mostly alcohol, these students will likely suffer from vitamin depletion, which can lead to a weakened immune system, sickness and diminished mental aptitude for their studies.
  • These behaviors can also lead to dehydration. This can cause dizziness, weakness, fainting, palpitations, vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms may be overlooked because they are easily confused with drunkenness or hangovers.

Expert Recommendations

The experts tell us that those who practice drunkorexia are “putting themselves at risk for serious negative consequences related to alcohol use.” The extra buzz and fewer calories simply aren’t worth the dangers. They recommend never drinking on an empty stomach and encourage college students who choose to drink take extra care to eat healthy, exercise and stay well-hydrated.

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