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NIDA. (2012, March 15). St. Patrick's Day: Leprechauns, Shamrocks, and... Binge Drinking?. Retrieved from

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Sara Bellum
March 15 2012
A row of beer bottles with Shamrock hats

St. Patrick’s Day, once a religious holiday that celebrated the patron saint of Ireland, has become a day for revelry and partying. In fact, it has become one of the biggest drinking days of the year.

Binge drinking—sucking down 4 or 5 drinks within about 2 hours—seems to be encouraged, with many bars hosting day-long parties and serving green beer and Irish whiskey.

Binge Drinking: What’s the Harm?

While downing pints of green beer may be a St. Patrick’s Day tradition for some, it’s really not a good one for your brain. Research shows that binge drinking damages the brain, even if you do it only once in a while. Young people are at special risk, since their brains are still developing—growing and making new connections until their mid-20s.

Binge drinking can lead to alcohol poisoning and also affects the frontal cortex, an area involved with judgment, thinking, memory, and feeling.

Drinking and Driving Is Never Okay

Binge drinking also can have serious consequences after the party’s over. If you’re driving under the influence, or riding with someone who’s drunk, you’ll need a ton of “Irish luck” to get home safely.

St. Patrick’s Day is one of the deadliest on the road. More than 1 in 3 drivers involved in fatal crashes have a blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit—and of course, no amount of alcohol is legal for those under age 21.

In 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started a program with the slogan, “Kiss Me, I’m Sober,” to keep “buzzed” drivers off the road on St. Patrick’s Day. The first and most important step is to choose a designated driver who will not drink alcohol during the festivities.

Be Green!

St. Patrick’s Day is meant for light-hearted fun, and you don’t have to drink alcohol to enjoy it. What are some ideas for celebrating the greenest holiday without drinking?