• Sumo

St. Patrick’s Day is known by many drinkers as one of the best nights to imbibe and celebrate what they believe is Irish tradition. Of course, beyond the overly simplified stereotypes lies a somewhat serious issue that affects as many as 20 million Americans: alcoholism. Perhaps more alarming is that about 30 percent of Americans abuse alcohol at some point in their lives, and drinking-inspired holidays – via social or cultural celebrations – may be partially to blame.

A 2010 study suggests that about 42 percent of all men have a history of getting plastered on a regular basis or becoming entirely dependent upon alcohol. The number is much lower for women at 19 percent, and considering that alcoholics develop dependence on average at age 22, perhaps the college party culture has something to do with this.

But many aren’t aware of how alcoholism affects the body. Most are aware of the damaging effects it has on the liver and brain, but nutritional changes due to high alcohol intake is what leads to many of the long-term complications associated with the disease. In extreme cases, when alcohol is as much as 50 percent of the daily caloric intake of the individual, the body starts to become nutrient deficient because alcohol does not offer anything of necessity. Instead, malnutrition due to depeletion of vitamins and minerals has devastating effects on the body.

Just a reminder: Maintain moderation when attending parties or bar hopping this weekend in celebration of the holiday. Don’t overdo it, for the sake of your body. Try to keep it within three drinks at the most. Your body will thank you for it the next day. Be safe, and have fun.