Too much alcohol equals memory loss

Heather Bickle, an outreach worker at The Campus Health Centre

Ahh! You’ve just finished a few drinks between classes. Now you can’t remember what you studied for the big test coming up.

Ever wonder why? Or just how much damage alcohol can do to study habits?

Alcohol is a depressant and can have effects on our memory, according to Heather Bickle, an outreach worker at the Campus Health Centre. She says alcohol can cause people to forget things and it can have other effects on our body as well.

“Because it is a depressant, it can be hard for us to remember long-term or short-term,” she says, explaining that consuming alcohol in small doses will calm your body, but in large doses cause other effects.

Those include heart problems, the ability to concentrate and focus, and a loss of social skills.

Bickle says alcohol holds people back.

“We’re not getting a chance to practice and learn other skills, coping skills, social skills,” she says.

According to Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, one in every four male students and one in every five female students report binge drinking.

Canada’s low-risk drinking guidelines say men should not drink more than 15 drinks per week and women should not drink more than 10 per week to reduce long-term risks.

CAMH says no more than four drinks a day for men and no more than three drinks per day for women.

“We can’t save all 15 or all 10 for the weekend,” says Bickle, adding that people could run into high risk by exceeding the number of drinks, which can affect behaviour patterns.

“Because alcohol is that depressant, it’s lowering our inhibitions. So for some people while they are consuming alcohol, they are making choices that they wouldn’t make if they were not under the influence of the substance.”

Bickle recalls a conversation with a student about responsibility when it comes to alcohol.

She and the student talked about whether people are making these choices on their own or because of the substance.

She says students can make better choices about alcohol in college by having a healthy relationship with substances.

“We really work with students in identifying their reason behind use, so why is it you are using and is there a healthier mechanism we can put in place?” says Bickle.

She adds students will sometimes feel pressured when they are out drinking.

They might feel social pressure to drink alcohol if everyone else orders.

“We work on a lot of self confidence and in ways you can sort of say ‘no’ to consuming alcohol,” she says. “We talk to students about respecting alcohol and finding that balance, so being able to have, if it’s their choice, to have one or two drinks of alcohol.”