A few days ago, a man who made a complaint about his loss of taste and tiredness was hospitalized at our university hospital. In our meeting, he disclosed that he was one of the victims of "the Sea Story", the speculative adult game, which became illegal after the public outcry. The results of medical examination on the patient proved that he had been suffering from liver cirrhosis and heart failure. The medical history of the patient further revealed that the patient started drinking alcohol from his university days. Ever since then, he turned to alcohol to relieve his stress from time to time.
From the medical point of view, this patient needs active treatments including absolute abstinence from alcohol. As in the case of this patient, the majority of alcoholic patients who visit the hospital start drinking immediately after their highschool graduation or early days in their university years. University days are not only important for students to prepare their future life but also to acquire a mode of their future life style. Above all, university days are pivotal for students to develop their independent life mode while taking off their earlier passive and dependent life style acquired from their highschool life.
Furthermore, university days are a crucial time for young students to tackle with a variety of environmental factors which will consequently affect their future adulthood. Despite the fact that university days are such a prime moment of students' life, customarily Korean society has taken a lenient attitude towards young men who drink alcohol heavily. Thus, drinking has been often glorified as one of privileges which students can enjoy during their university days. Traditionally in Korean culture, a positive side of drinking alcohol on the part of young men has been overemphasized. Thus a cultural lapse about drinking has resulted in loosing an admonition against drinking alcohol.
Such a social prejudice towards alcohol consumption has affected not only Korean adults but also young men who are publicly connived at easy access to alcohol. Furthermore, often university students are publicly encouraged to drink alcohol at official gatherings as well as private parties. According to a survey, 99% of Korean university students are known to have had drinking alcohol more than one time. Among them, 55% male students are known to have had a heavy drink once a week.
Alcohol consumption affects not only the physical, mental health of a drinker but also his social life. Although an appropriate amount of drinking alcohol is known to be better than nothing as a way of alleviating stress as well as a catalyst for improving good social relationships, there is no absolute criterion to measure a degree of appropriate drinking. Excessive drinking always leads to poverty, the break-up of a family, a loss of tenacity for livelihood, conflict with other people, and poor health. When it gets worse, drinking effects a hindrance of proper social activity, mental disorder, cardiac disease, liver disease and finally a variety of cancers.
From a medical perspective, drinking alcohol brings about fatty liver, acute hepatitis, chronic hepatitis, and liver cirrhosis. Such liver disease may further develop itself into a critical disease such as liver cancer. It has been reported that among alcohol consumers, about 90% to 100% are suffering from fatty liver. If a man drinks 60-80g alcoholic beverage everyday for several years, he/she may have alcoholic hepatitis. However, this is not an absolute standard applicable to anyone who drinks alcohol. Depending upon circumstances for an individual as well as genetic factors, alcoholic cirrhosis can be brought about by consuming a small amount of liquor only. Once a man is diagnosed as having alcoholic cirrhosis, he/she may have symptoms of jaundice by a hepatic failure, or hypoalbuminemia, or the decrease of a bleeding factor, or a loss of weight, or fever, or ascites, including other symptoms such as portal hypertension or a hepatic coma. Then, eventually he/she may face a critical state of life or death.
In conclusion, students' reckless heavy drinking in their university days should be changed into other healthier, sounder activities. It is necessary that the university should approach students who are succumbed to drinking more than once a week from an educational point of view as well as a medical viewpoint. It is needless to say that voluntary abstinence from alcohol consumption on the part of students is essential for sound future social life and good health.