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 helps to control how fast alcohol enters your bloodstream, but it will not protect you from the effects of excessive drinking.


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

FALSE

While the caffeine in coffee may make you feel more awake, it does not change the effect of alcohol on your coordination, reaction time, and judgment. To sober up, what you need is time. Your body can metabolize only a certain amount of alcohol each hour; how much you drink determines how many hours it will take 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. Like 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 side effects of caffeine like 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, as some medications, mixing with alcohol can lead to serious liver damage. 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 risk of lung disease, heart problems, and lung and other cancers. Drinking may be related to some cancer risks, which depend on how much and how often people drink. Regular smokers who also drink regularly and heavily have an 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 in the morning that you 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 self-confidence, prolonged heavy drinking by males may decrease sexual ability and fertility.