What happens when you drink?

True or false? Myths about drinking

If I eat a lot of greasy food, I can drink more.

FALSE

It is true that foods, particularly those higher in fat, slow the absorption rate of alcohol. This happens because eating closes the valve between your stomach and intestines, where the alcohol is absorbed more quickly than in your stomach. But eventually, the alcohol will be absorbed and your body can only metabolize a certain amount of alcohol each hour. On average, a person metabolizes 10-12g of alcohol an hour. Eating before or while drinking is a good plan to control how fast alcohol enters into your body, but it will not protect you from excessive drinking.


If I drink a lot of coffee, I’ll sober up fast.

FALSE

While the caffeine in coffee may make you more awake, it does not change the effect of alcohol on your coordination, reaction time, and judgment. To sober up, you need time. Your body can metabolize only a certain amount of alcohol each hour, so how much you drink will determine how many hours need to pass until you are sober. If you drink to excess your body may still contain significant amounts of alcohol well after you stop drinking.


If I mix my alcohol with an energy drink, I can keep going.

FALSE

Energy drinks contain caffeine and may contain other stimulants, which make you less sleepy when you drink. As with coffee, energy drinks do not change how alcohol affects your body. You will still suffer the consequences of excessive drinking. Furthermore, some emerging studies indicate that drinking high levels of caffeine mixed with alcohol may increase risky behaviors, such as binge drinking, as well as the side effects of caffeine resulting in heart palpitations and insomnia.


My medications don’t affect me much, so I can drink what I want.

FALSE

Over-the-counter and prescription medications often interact with alcohol in ways you might not expect. The effects can be disorienting or even dangerous to your health. If you are on medications, you should get advice from your healthcare provider or pharmacist before you add alcohol to the mix.


I get high on illegal drugs, and drinking makes it even better.

FALSE

This combination is high-risk. The interactions between illegal drugs and alcohol may increase your impairment and result in serious negative legal, social, and health consequences.


There is nothing better than a smoke and a drink.

FALSE

Smoking of tobacco products is related to significant risks of lung disease, heart problems, and lung and other cancers. Alcohol is also related to some cancer risks, particularly for heavy drinkers. Regular smokers who also drink regularly (and particularly those who smoke and drink a lot) carry a significantly increased risk of certain mouth and digestive tract cancers.


I will be fine in the morning no matter how much I drink.

FALSE

You cannot always “sleep it off.” Your body can eliminate only a certain amount of alcohol each hour. Your body may still be processing alcohol consumed the night before. At high levels of drinking, your BAC the next morning could still be above any legal limits for driving.


Alcohol helps digest my food.

FALSE

Alcohol actually slows digestion.


Alcohol makes me warmer.

FALSE

The feeling of heat is deceptive. The dilation of blood vessels is responsible for producing only a momentary and deceptive feeling of heat on the surface which then involves a further cooling of the body, increasing the risk of frostbite for those in cold temperatures.


Alcohol increases my sexual performance.

FALSE

While alcohol consumption may provide a perceived boost in self-confidence, prolonged consumption of alcohol beverages decreases sexual ability and fertility.


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