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Jill Royston, M.A., Program Coordinator, Student Wellness Resource Center

What an amazing time of year! Warm, long summer days brings out all sorts of fun and celebrations! Concerts in the park, town festivals, 4th of July celebrations, boating on lakes, fishing in the rivers, campfires…many individuals enhance their relaxation with a cold beer, glass of wine, or cocktail.  And while spending time on vacation, may find themselves partaking at all times of the day.

So what are the risks associated with drinking in the summer sun?  Many of us may not know that alcohol is one of the most dehydrating liquids (especially beer and wine).  As such, there is a strong tendency to want to drink more to combat the effects.  Individuals who most likely would not abuse alcohol might drink more during summer outings.  Additionally, many summer activities are more physical in nature.  Even a day out boating on a lake can take quite a bit out of a person: water skiing, tubing, holding on and navigating waves – these activities, all under the warm sun and the wind, are challenging even without adding alcohol to the mix.  When alcohol does play a factor, levels that may otherwise be tolerated can profoundly affect an individual sooner, impairing judgment and heightening risk in whatever activity may be undertaken.

Per Dr. Nicholas A. Pace, M.D., a board member of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. in New York City, “…causes a loss of inhibitions, which leads to aggressiveness, poor judgment, and reckless movements in the water while boating, swimming and diving. It can cause faulty coordination and disorientation in the water, and impair a person’s swallowing and breathing reflexes — both of which are essential to swimming.”

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence also share that the following statistics underscore the negative consequences of alcohol consumption:

  • Drinking may be a factor in 80% of boating fatalities, says the National Transportation Safety Board. According to the National Safety Council, boating accidents are this country’s second-largest cause of transportation injuries.
  • According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol is involved in an estimated 38% of drowning deaths. Data assembled recently for the Surgeon General shows that this number rises to between 40 and 50% for young males.
  • 40-50% of all diving injury victims consume alcoholic beverages, according to the same report.

So – when planning your summer activities, knowing the effects of alcohol, identifying the risks associated with drinking while partaking of water activities, boating/driving, and the reasons for use, you may find that your summer activities will be even more fun without alcohol!

For more information, visit www.ncadd.org.

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