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Alcohol an enhancement, not an activity

College students have been among the leaders in alcohol consumption for decades, but a new drinking “strategy” that young adults are employing has physicians, college administrators and parents quite concerned. Drunkorexia is the name that’s been given to the practice of eating less food to save room for calories from alcohol consumption.

Although many will associate the trend primarily with eating disorders related to body image, this trend is more embedded in our culture than we realize. In fact, I’d say the way our culture 8212; especially the younger generation 8212; views alcohol is what leads to extreme circumstances like skipping meals in preparation for a night of drinking.

To me, alcohol abuse starts when alcohol ceases to be used to enhance an activity and instead becomes the social activity.

There’s a popular saying in Alcoholics Anonymous called “drinking to drink.” People of all ages abuse alcohol out of addiction, but young people especially abuse alcohol due to a false social perception of drinking being the activity, rather than something that can enhance a social activity.

Alcohol has always been a big business in America, but following World War II, consumers saw a major push in marketing. This is where the phenomenon of light beer, a concept still not very common in most of the rest of the world, emerged.

Although light beer was originally mass-produced due to a more visually-appealing appearance and more refreshing taste, many advertising dollars are spent by companies claiming to have the lowest-calorie light beer. In fact, Miller Lite still continues a variation of its 1974 “Tastes great, less filling” ad campaign, which was ranked the eighth-best advertising campaign in history by Advertising Age magazine. This marketing practice has been so successful that major breweries have developed ultra-lights 8212; very low-calorie beers 8212; such as MGD 64, Bud Select 55 and Michelob Ultra.

I’m all for curbing obesity, but my problem with American light beers is that they taste terrible. Nearly any person well-versed on the quality of beer will agree that light and ultra-light beers are simply low-quality products. One review of MGD 64 on says, “The taste is watery, grassy…kind of like urine but without the ammonia. Truly noxious stuff.”

The popularity and marketing of light beers that are low calorie but also low quality further illustrate that people are not looking for a drink to enjoy but rather something they can drink more of and get drunk on easier.

My worry about my generation’s alcohol consumption is that we’ve lost the point; the reason God gave humans alcohol, why Jesus turned water into wine, and why the majority of humans has been consuming alcohol responsibly for thousands of years. Alcohol enhances social activity and emotions. Although chemically considered a depressant and certainly unsafe when abused, alcohol has enough positive effects that it has, is, and will be socially acceptable to consume for ages to come.

I’m not incredibly surprised alcohol consumption among college students has come to this point. After all, our generation loves extremes: extreme sports, drinks full of extreme amounts of energy and extremely potent workout supplements. We buy terrible beer in large quantities 8212; such as 30 packs of Keystone Light 8212; and we even have energy beer that’s recently been outlawed in some states.

Instead of ordering a cheap, low-quality light beer, order a well-brewed beer next time you go out. Try to find something you enjoy rather than simply something that will get you drunk. Sure you might have to run a few extra laps to maintain your “figure,” but the satisfaction of a well-made product will be well worth it.

John Andrew Willis is a senior Spanish major from Dallas.

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