B is for Beer Olympics

Cut the bull. I know you are partying and it is showing in your RA’s blood-work.

Have you trained for binge drinking?

“Beer Olympics”, is becoming more and more popular as the desire of a traditional college experience rises throughout the nation. If you ask the majority of college students what they enjoy in the way of extra curricular activities, you will hear community based organizations such as “Big Brothers and Big Sisters” and “Habitat for Humanity” mentioned, but most students will respond with activities that all involve drinking. Why is this? Drinking is used as a social crutch. Unfortunately, it also tends to bring out people’s aggressive side, which can lead to antagonism and competitiveness.

Now, more than ever, drinking has become a competitive sport. The most popular drinking game, dubbed “Beer Pong” is considered [by almost every college student in the United States] a fun sport which can be played at bars, tailgate parties, and even in the pool. The game requires far less thought and components than your traditional Monopoly board game, which makes it perfect for the drunken scene. Despite the lack of necessities, you do need coherence and coordination to be able to shoot the ball into the red solo cup.

The more alcohol consumed, however, the less coherent and coordinated you are. Your confidence increases greatly, therefore encouraging you to keep playing and continue drinking.  It is a challenge; how much can you handle? If you are serious about your drinking, like most college students, you should know…as you have trained all last week for the “beer olympics”.

Like any other sport in the Olympics, “beer pong” is just one event in the “beer olympics”, which makes it impossible to leave, unless you want to forfeit your team. You would never see Mia Hamm walking off of the field during a match. During this big event, beer pong is just as serious. Although you are completely drunk, you do not give up. This is the most reoccurring problem that college students face–they do not have enough courage to say “this is wrong, I am harming my body”, because they are either brimming with confidence or are covering up for insecurity and awkwardness by giving in to social pressure.

Alcohol should only be used in moderation because it is a toxin. Moderation means one to two drinks per day, even in social settings! A single drink served in the United States is equal to 14 grams of alcohol, or approximately one beer, one shot, or one glass of wine. When students are participating in drinking games, they can consume up to twelve beers, or more. By the third drink, their bodies are experiencing the following:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Weight gain
  • Liver damage
  • Impaired motor skills
  • Decreased attention span
  • Dehydration
  • Increased chances of life threatening illnesses, i.e.: cancer

So why then is this sport known to be fun? It is a challenge. Lucky for you and me, we face a bigger challenge every single day–Rheumatoid Arthritis. Those who binge drink may be looking for a challenge or a way to prove something. We have already proven our ability to survive in rare form. There are times, however, when we want to engage in common social activity and be part of the fun and in this case- “beer pong”.

Along with the seven dangers of high alcohol consumption listed above, come a few more for those of us who live with Rheumatoid Arthritis. You are not the average person and must understand the dangers of mixing RA with alcohol, especially when taking medications. If you read the details in small print pertaining to your medication, you will notice liver toxicity and damage as well as ulcers and bleeding of the gastrointestinal tract are listed as potential side effects. These are just to name a few. For this reason, your Rheumatologist moderates your SED rate every few months if you are taking these serious drugs to track the health of your liver. He or she will know if you are binge drinking and will not be happy with poor results; I know this from experience.

It was in March and I had done my bloodwork for my Rheumatologist, keeping with the routine I had been doing since I was one year old. This time, however, it was different. I had begun attending Keene State College where partying was an extra curricular activity, a way to socialize and gain friends, especially as a new freshman. Friends that had no idea of the severity of my disease, or it’s existence whatsoever. I, myself, had ignored my disease and as a result, my SED rate was extremely poor. It was not long until my Dr. had called me on my cell.

“Where are you? And what the hell have you been doing to yourself?”. Explaining that I was in school and studying hard to maintain a 3.7 average did not cut it for my doctor, “Cut the bull. I know you are partying and it is showing in your blood-work” Shit. I did not even think about that, or my disease in general. I was pretending to be someone I am not. I responded freshly, “Well that’s what you do in college…you party!” But my doctor knew me too well. He had to be even more witty and straight forward for me to really grasp how serious the situation was, “if your plan includes getting a liver transplant by the time you are twenty-five, I suggest you stop young lady!” There it was; the truth had come to hit me straight in the face. The moment sank into time and I reconnected with who I had been for the last 17 years, “Ok doc. I gotcha…I’ll seriously stop. For real.” I could tell how upset he had been when a sigh of relief echoed through the phone line. Like a father, he threatened me, telling me not to make him call again. I agreed to the plan.

But, now what? How was I supposed to explain to my friends that I just suddenly could not drink? Easy–I didn’t tell them. Instead, I faked drinking. There are so many ways you can still socialize in a heavy drinking environment. During beer pong, I would take a “bathroom break” and would switch out my beer with water or soda. While pouring shots, I would hold my finger over the bottle opening and pretend to pour into the glass.  Alcohol decreases your attention to detail and no one ever noticed that I wasn’t actually drinking.

I became a beer pong expert. The more I practiced, the better I became. Beer Olympics was actually much more fun. I gained a better understanding of who people actually were and viewed things in completely different light. When the year ended, I knew exactly who I wanted to be friends with and who would accept me for exactly who I was.

Now, when I go out to parties or bars, I am confident and do not need alcohol as a crutch to socialize. As a result, people are amazed by my strength and intrigued by the disease. They want to know what I do instead of drinking, which opens up an entirely different conversation. I have learned how to take the bar scene out of the bar, without even leaving.



11 thoughts on “B is for Beer Olympics”

  1. I’m glad I stumbled upon this post. I’m a junior in college and was just diagnosed with RA about 2 months ago. Just like most other college students, I’ve been a huge binge drinker for the past two and a half years. Now that I’m going on methotrexate I’m going to have to start putting some of your methods into practice when I go out. Do you still go out often, or do you find yourself wanting to do other things on the weekend instead? I’d love to talk to you more about this and how you handle RA and living with it!

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