Fact or Fiction? Busting 6 Alcohol Myths
Our beliefs guide our actions. We base our decisions on what we know to be true. But, what if the ‘facts’ we believe aren’t true after all?
Get Your Facts Straight
Some people can enjoy a drink without any problems; others aren’t so lucky.
Binge drinking or drinking heavily over longer periods of time can have very serious consequences. Along with the obvious immediate effects of drinking too much – nausea, vomiting, getting way too loud at parties, getting into fights with strangers, making horrible decisions, DUIs, etc. – alcohol is the second biggest risk factor for cancers of the mouth and throat, and people who develop cirrhosis of the liver (generally caused by too much alcohol) often develop terminal liver cancer.
Alcohol misuse not only harms the individual, it also damages relationships – and society in general – in terms of violence and crime, accidents and drunk driving.
Following are some of the most common misconceptions about alcohol. As you make decisions about your drinking habits, avoid making them based on these myths.
It’s safe to drink more and more over time because your body develops a tolerance to alcohol.
- Truth: Tolerance is a warning sign, not a stamp of approval to drink more. If your body develops a tolerance (you have to drink more to feel the same buzz), this means your body is being physically affected by alcohol. The more you drink, the more damage it causes your body. The risks continue to grow, not shrink.
Beer makes you less drunk than other types of alcohol.
- Truth: The alcohol content of a drink is what makes you drunk. A beer, a large glass of wine, and a double vodka all have nearly three units of alcohol each. Whatever you consume, in large enough quantities, it’s going to make you drunk.
You can “sober up” with a pot of coffee or a cold shower.
- Truth: Time is the only thing that will make you sober again. Your body has to process the alcohol. It typically takes about an hour to process one unit (12 fl oz of beer, 8 fl oz malt liquor, 5 fl oz wine, 2 fl oz liqueur, 1.5 fl oz brandy, 1.5 fl oz shot of distilled spirits.)
You’ll get more drunk if you drink several types of alcohol.
- Truth: Mixing things up with a glass of wine, then a beer, then a shot does not affect how drunk you get. (The order of the drinks doesn’t matter either.) Your blood alcohol content determines how drunk you are. This is affected by how much alcohol content you drink, not how much variety you drink. (But throwing down a mix of different drinks could make you a lot more nauseous.)
If I eat a big meal before I drink, I won’t get drunk.
- Truth: Food does not prevent alcohol from affecting your body. The alcohol still gets in your system. It may be delayed a bit by the food, which will slow the rate of absorption, but if you drink heavily, you still get drunk.
A drink before bed helps you sleep.
- Truth: A nightcap can actually make you lose sleep. Research has shown that alcohol disrupts sleep and reduces your REM time, which is essential for a good night’s sleep.
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