Most adults have probably heard this saying. Call it a bit of “collegiate wisdom,” the myth that drinking “liquor before beer, you’re in the clear, but beer before liquor, you’ve never been sicker.”
Maybe the slightest whiff of truth in this urban legend is that most people drink beer slower than they do liquor. As a result, they’re sometimes drunker than they realize by the time they switch to hard alcohol and things start to go “off the rails,” so to speak.
By the end of college, or at least at a certain age, most social-drinkers wise up.
The truth about how drunk a person gets has to do with how much alcohol they consume, the time between drinks, their tolerance, chemical makeup, the size of a person, and whether or not they’re imbibing on an empty stomach, among a variety of other factors that go into how they’ll be feeling the next morning.
12 Popular Myths and a Few Sobering Facts About America’s Favorite Party Drug – Alcohol
1. Drinking Alcohol Destroys Brain Cells – False
Getting drunk will not cause brain damage, though it’s an understandable assumption given the number of poor decisions people tend to make after a few drinks.
Long-term alcohol misuse, however, can lead to memory loss and other psychological impairments.
2. Heavy Drinking is Not the Same as Alcoholism – True
According to a national survey published on Harvard Health, around one-third of adults in the U.S. are “excessive drinkers,” though only 10 percent are estimated to actually have alcohol use disorder.
3. Dark Beer Contains More Alcohol Than Lighter Beers, Like Lagers or Pilsners – False
The color of a beer has nothing to do with its alcohol content. How much alcohol is in a particular beer depends upon how the beer was brewed and what grains were used.
4. After Working Out, Beer is a Good Recovery Drink – False
Consuming alcohol depletes the bloodstream of needed oxygen quicker than say, a sports drink or water. The myth is that there are nutrients in beer that water doesn’t have, but the negative effects of alcohol outweigh any nutritional benefits.
That said, a cold beer after mowing the lawn or working outside on a hot summer day can be refreshing.
5. Avoiding Food to Control the High Calorie Intake From Alcohol Will Keep You Thin – True
Though it’s obviously a terrible idea. “Drunkorexia” is the term for this that has actually made news as a trend on some college campuses.
Being malnourished while drinking increases the likelihood of alcohol poisoning, blackout, illness and alcohol-related injury.
6. Taking Vitamin B1 Might Ward Off Alcoholic Brain Disease – True
Probably the best takeaway here, though, is to avoid prolonged years of alcohol abuse.
7. Coffee and Cold Showers Will Sober a Person Up – False
If a drunk person who quickly needs to get sober drinks coffee and takes a cold shower, they will simply be more awake and, well, probably shivering and wet.
It takes the liver, roughly, about an hour to process each drink. So four drinks would require four hours before the alcohol has it made its way through the body. Only time will sober a person up.
8. Alcohol is Less Addictive Than Other Drugs – False
An estimated 15 million Americans, aged 18 and older, suffer from alcohol use disorder, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and that number is on the rise.
A study published last year in JAMA Psychiatry found a “substantial increase in alcohol use, high-risk drinking and alcohol use disorder.”
9. The Younger a Person Starts Drinking, the Better They Handle Alcohol as They Age – False
The human brain is not fully developed until the age of 25. Ask any 35-year-old and they’ll tell you that being 21 is basically like being 12, but with a job and, maybe, a little more money.
Alcohol and other mood altering chemicals disrupt brain development, most especially in the brain’s reward centers. Studies show that this disruption is likely to result in riskier pleasure seeking behavior, like alcoholism or addiction, later in life.
10. Taking Acetaminophen, aka Tylenol, Before Bed Will Prevent a Hangover – False
Acetaminophen might help with an alcohol-induced headache, but the body is still going through alcohol withdrawal, aka a hangover.
Worse, research shows that acetaminophen can actually increase the risk of liver damage.
11. Alcohol is Only Bad For the Liver – False
Too much of a good thing…actually, alcohol, though good at lubricating social situations or a bit of relaxing at the end of a long day, is not good for the body.
12. Alcohol Improves Sleep – False
Yes, a few drinks will get you to sleep faster, but as any company that’s thrown a midweek holiday party knows, employees don’t show up to work the next day feeling better rested.
Alcohol consumption interrupts REM sleep, which is needed for restful, healthy sleep. It also increases the heart rate, the likelihood of snoring and the frequent need to go to the bathroom, all of which also interfere with refreshing slumber.
There’s no denying that for many cultures across the globe, the “lighter” side of alcohol use brings people together. Obviously, the “darker” side can come with a heavy emotional and physical price tag.
So, it’s important to use common sense when planning a night out that includes booze, to know the truth about alcohol’s effect on the body and, most importantly, to recognize drinking habits that crossover from recreational to habitual.
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