Are Postechians Drinking Safely?
Are Postechians Drinking Safely?
  • Reporter Kim Seo-yeon
  • 승인 2019.10.18 15:12
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▲Result of Alcohol  Addiction Test (AUDIT - K) and The main reason why Postechians experienced unwilling drinking-meetups
▲Result of Alcohol Addiction Test (AUDIT - K) and The main reason why Postechians experienced unwilling drinking-meetups


Most of us, if not all, would have at least had a sip of “this” in their lifetime. “This” can cause one to become happy or depressed; “this” can provide health benefits or become deadly problems; “this” can boost one’s cognitive power or cause permanent damage to the brain. “This” is alcohol, and whether it does good or bad depends on how much one drinks.
Postechians are used to alcohol being around them. At drinking meetups, such as the Start- and the End-of-Semester parties, at club or committee get-togethers, and at night-outs with friends, alcohol consumption can be witnessed easily. Alcoholic drinks have become a necessity at such events since they are thought to make people happier, more relaxed, and more sociable. However, as briefly explained above, alcohol has its downsides too. So, before one starts to drink up, it must acknowledge the effects of alcohol and the way to drink healthily.
To provide information on the benefits and side effects of alcohol consumption and advise Postechians the right drinking habits, The Postech Times conducted an alcohol addiction test and survey on 106 students regarding their their drinking habits. 
Out of the 106 Postechians who answered the survey, 76% answered that drinking made them ‘happy’. Indeed, alcohol affects the brain by disrupting the balance of chemicals and processes in the brain and, therefore, affects one’s thoughts and feelings. The sense of happiness whilst drinking is related to the alcohol-induced increase in the activity of dopamine neurons and in opioid cells that release endorphins. Dopamine gives a surge of pleasure when achieving a goal or desire, in this case drinking alcohol, and endorphin alleviates anxiety and depression; this also explains why 24% Postechians answered that they drank to ease stress.
However, such chemical releases take place when one has drunk moderately; once the blood alcohol level passes 0.05-0.06% the pleasant feeling sides away and the dreadful side effects kick in, making one dizzy, powerless, and grouchy. This means that drinking more than two and a half shots of soju or a 500mL can of beer in an hour will make you depressed and sluggish, so one should not exceed the above-mentioned amounts in order to drink happily.
Apart from making one feel down, alcohol is also known to give hangovers. Ethanol, a type of alcohol and the main ingredient of alcoholic drinks, is recognized as toxic by the body and, therefore, the liver tries to eliminate it from the body. However, in the process, ethanol is broken down into even more toxic byproduct acetaldehyde. The enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH2) metabolizes acetaldehyde into a nontoxic chemical acetic acid, but when the ethanol intake is high so that more acetaldehyde is produced than the amount dehydrogenase can cope with, the toxic compound builds up in the liver. This incompatibly high level of acetaldehyde is thought to be the main cause behind hangovers, causing 36% of Postechians to have headaches and nausea the next day. Since hangovers implicate that one has exceeded its alcohol consumption ability, those who experience such side effects should drink water in between to dilute the alcohol, eat enough food to provide energy to the liver, and, most importantly, not over-drink.
More than 10% of Postechians answered that they normally experience blackout after drinking. Blackout, the loss of memory, is believed to be caused by the chemical disruption in the brain’s hippocampus, the region in the brain that plays an important role in forming new memories. Ethanol affects signal transmissions between neurons by interfering with the receptors in the hippocampus that transmit the neurotransmitter glutamate. This produces steroids that prevent neurons from communicating with each other properly, and the long-term potentiation (LTP), a process believed necessary for learning and memory, is disrupted. 
Since a blackout is a disruption in the brain function, it may indicate long-term damages on the brain; alcohol intoxication enough to cause blackouts may lead to the shrinkage of the frontal lobe, area of the brain associated with both short- and long-term memory, and suppress the prefrontal cortex, the part responsible for rational thinking and planning. As it is believed that blackouts occur when one’s blood alcohol content rockets beyond 0.15%, to prevent blackouts and the following complications, one must watch how much it drinks.
To gain the pleasure alcohol gives and to avoid side effects, drinking an appropriate amount of alcohol is essential. According to the Korean Academy of Family Medicine, the recommended alcohol consumption amount per day is 14g for men and half of it for women. Giving an example by soju and beer, which are beloved by about 80% of Postechians, it can be two shots of soju or 360ml of beer. However, it is not an absolute standard for all. If one turns red whilst drinking, it means that it lacks acetaldehyde decomposition enzymes, ALDH2, due to faulty versions of ALDH2 gene. Therefore, the 45% of Postechians who flush after drinking may be alcohol intolerant and should drink less than these recommendations. Like this, it is important to recognize your appropriate drinking amount and keep to it.
To check whether Postechians are drinking safely, the Postech Times conducted the Korean version of the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT – K) to students. The test consists of 10 questions related to drinking habits, and each answer to each question scored from zero to four. The result of the test is determined by the sum of the score of each answer. As a result, a total of 49 students out of 106 showed a score below 8, meaning they have a low risk of alcohol-related problems. 21 students resulted in score 9 to 12, that represents a medium level of alcohol problems. They were recommended to get simple advice and reduce hazardous drinking. 26 students showed score 13 to 19 meaning high level of alcohol problems. They were recommended to be managed by a combination of medical advice, brief counseling and continued monitoring. Finally, 10 students resulted in a score of over 20 representing they already suffer alcohol dependence. They were strongly recommended to be diagnosed by specialist and possible treatment for alcohol dependence.
Also, to check Postechian’s drinking culture, we asked whether students have unwillingly drunk alcohol or participated in drinking-meetups. 44% of students answered ‘yes’ and 56% answered ‘no.’ Out of students who answered ‘yes’, 62% of students said that ‘mood was uncomfortable to get out’ and 32% said ‘felt like making a loss later if I get out.’ Only two students answered the boss was coercive. It is good news that there are few coercive and compulsive bosses at drinking-meetups in POSTECH. However, Postechians still need to change the drinking culture so that everyone can comfortably participate and get out.
We should control alcohol, not be controlled by it. To control it, Postechians must acknowledge the appropriate alcohol consumption and be careful not to drink too much. It will lead them to have pleasure and fun with alcohol, not side effects. Also, The Postech Times wishes the right drinking culture to be settled in POSTECH, so everyone can be happy in the drinking-meetups. For the right drinking habits and culture in POSTECH, cheers!