Ryan Chartrand

I was in Puerto Rico last week, laughing and sipping drinks with friends and family, when a man got up on a nearby table and started dancing, spilling his drink all over himself.

He then dragged his companions up with him and urged onlookers to do the same until, eventually, everyone was dancing on their tables, drinks in hand.

Okay, so it was Se¤or Frog’s; behavior like that is expected and even encouraged there. (Free shots are offered to anyone who will take them. Many do.) But as I watched the bartender pour drinks into the mouths of the patrons in the conga line, I wondered: How much is too much?

Alcohol has its good qualities, but those fade away quickly if you drink too much. The nutrition book sitting next to me states that alcohol in moderation (defined in the text as roughly one drink per day for men and slightly less than that for women) has some great health benefits. It decreases the risk of death in those at high risk for coronary heart disease by increasing HDL-cholesterol in some people, which in turn decreases blood clotting and relaxes the blood vessels.

The decreased blood clotting increases circulation, which enhances brain functions and decreases the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, peripheral vascular disease and ischemic stroke.

Now don’t get me wrong; this isn’t a nagging anti-alcohol article by any means. I have enjoyed a nice glass of wine on many an occasion. It’s just hard for me to see the motivation behind getting completely smashed (intoxicated, sloshed, hammered, wasted . whiche-ver term you prefer – it still means you’re drunk.) I have never quite had the desire to binge and wake up the next morning feeling like a dump truck ran over me.

In high school, a lot of my classmates would go out for the sole purpose of getting completely schnockered. Even then, I wondered at their overindulgence and inexplicable desire to feel like their heads were filled with concrete.

I understood breaking out a bottle of champagne for celebrations or some red wine for dinner at an Italian restaurant, but this?

I know the attitude I’m expressing here isn’t really typical of your average 18-year-old, but I guess that’s because I wasn’t raised with a typical view of alcohol.

Because alcohol was just another drink in my house, I didn’t grow up counting down the days until I could get away to a college kegger and make a complete idiot out of myself.

My parents were rather European about drinking. That is, drink to complement the atmosphere – not to create one.

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