Facts and Fiction of Alcohol Use

Updated 4 years ago

By- Dr. Amy MoviusSt. Patrick’s Day is Wednesday, March 17th – a lighthearted holiday of green clothes, shamrocks, and (for some) alcohol indulgence. If drinking is a planned part of tomorrow’s celebration, be prepared to distinguish the truths about alcohol consumption from the many leprechaun myths.Alcohol is a Stimulant Nope, it’s a depressant. The initial effects may cause euphoria, and thus seem energizing, but actually, it depresses the brain.It’s Better to Drink With a Full StomachTrue! Though you will still absorb the alcohol you drink, you will do so more slowly with a full stomach and so not feel the effects as rapidly.You can Learn to “Hold Your Liquor”False. Drinking alcohol is not like going to the gym where you can train you body to do more. If the same amount of alcohol doesn’t affect you like it used to, you are developing a tolerance, which is a sign of addiction. It means you need help!Hard Liquor Gets You Drunk FasterNope again. Alcohol is alcohol and you body doesn’t know or care if it was beer, wine or vodka: it’s all processed the same way. What defines “a drink” differs between the three: 12 oz beer, 5 oz wine, and 1 oz of 100 proof hard liquor (1 1/4 oz of 80 proof) are all equal to ½ oz of pure ethanol alcohol. The person who only drinks glasses of white wine will have the same breathalyzer result as the one who drank the same number of “shots”.Women Get Drunk EasierTrue. Men and women of the same size absorb and metabolize alcohol somewhat differently. This is related to the different proportions of fat to lean muscle between genders as well as a difference in the amount of alcohol dehydrogenase present, the enzyme that breaks alcohol down.Coffee Can Sober You UpCoffee is a stimulant, which may make you feel more alert, but that is not the same as sober. BAC, or blood alcohol concentration (what a breathalyzer measures) decreases at a set, slow rate as the liver breaks the alcohol down. The BAC decreases at about .015 percent/hr. Coffee will NOT affect this. Neither will a cold shower, exercise or anything else. Time alone will sober you up.Drinking Some Alcohol Can Treat a HangoverNo way. The term hangover is derived from the Norwegian word “Veisalgia” meaning “uneasiness following debauchery”. The unpleasant symptoms include headache, nausea, and fatigue (to name a few) and are largely attributed to the dehydrating effects of alcohol consumption. In addition to the “hair of the dog” myth above, MANY products are touted as hangover remedies. They include medications, vitamins, supplements, and foods (bacon, egg and cheese sandwich for one). These products, and even “hangover kits”, can be easily purchased on-line, or at your local drug store. A 2008 article in the British Medical Journal attempted to study the effectiveness of many of these “remedies”. The found the only thing that cured hangovers was time. A better plan may be to prevent the hangover to begin with, by limiting alcohol drinking to moderation.The Younger Children Drink Alcohol The More Likely They Will Have A Drinking ProblemTrue. If you indulge in alcohol during this (or any other) occasion, don’t allow kids to participate. It’s simply not appropriate.If Someone Passes Out From Drinking You Should Let Them Sleep It Off Remember that alcohol is a depressant. It can impair and breathing, blood pressure, heart rate and can be fatal. If someone passes out you would be better taking them to medical attention, not leaving them in alone in a room. References:1. www.uwstout.edu/aod/resources/alcohol/myths_facts.html2. www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/AlcoholFactsandFiction.html3. BMJ2008:337:a2769


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