Beer after whisky? Very risky. Whisky after beer… no fear!” we overheard a 20-something announcing to his table before ordering another round of drinks at a bar last Friday.
Whether it proved to be gospel for his gang or caused them to pass out with flying colours isn’t known, but it pointed out that most of us harbour many half-truths about alcohol.
We put together the top 10 misconceptions you might have heard or told an ignorant other…
“She’s a gone case… two beers and she’s down!”
Truth: Women get drunk faster than men
A woman’s body processes alcohol differently than a man’s. Women’s systems generally have less body water to dilute the intoxicating effects of alcohol. Moreover, women metabolise (burn up) alcohol slower than men as the alcohol-metabolising enzyme present in their stomachs is 25 per cent less active in females than males.
“You look so hung-over… why don’t you have a cold shower and hot coffee…”
Truth: Neither will work
A cold shower or black coffee won’t reduce the alcohol concentration in your blood. Cold showers simply awaken your senses and tend to make you more alert; as does some fresh air. Hot coffee is the worst cure as the caffeine will only aggravate your hangover.
“This one’s my last. Drinking kills brain cells!”
Truth: One more drink won’t kill more brain cells.
Any form of alcohol abuse for several years can cause neurological damage involving impairment of learning and physical co-ordination.
But there is no direct evidence to suggest that alcohol kills brain cells. In fact, you may have now seen several health studies on our pages that say moderate drinking helps the brain function better, improves cognitive skills and memory. That said, humans have not yet been tested directly for positive brain effects.
“Beer is less intoxicating yaar… Call for another pint!”
Truth: True, but more beer = more alcohol, right?
Alcohol intoxicates you and it is present in different volumes across drinks. How much volume of alcohol we consume determines our level of intoxication. Although beer has relatively less alcohol volume as compared to wine or vodka, we tend drink beer in much larger quantities, and end up consuming much more alcohol after all. A 330-ml can of beer, one 110 ml glass of wine or one normal mixed spirit drink are all equally intoxicating.
“Let’s switch between beer, wine and vodka, and get drunk ASAP!”
Truth: Drunk, maybe. Sick, for sure.
The level of blood alcohol content (BAC) determines sobriety or intoxication. Mixing drinks can upset the stomach and make you feel sick, but doesn’t necessarily lead to more intoxication.
“Pop a pill dude, you’ve got to go to work tomorrow.”
Truth: It may work for you… but be cautious.
One must be very careful taking tablets such as aspirin and dispirin as they can cause internal bleeding of the liver which has already been attacked by alcohol. In extreme cases, medication taken on alcohol can be fatal too. Also, the next time your know-it-all friend offers you a headache pill at the after-party, be very scared.
“Eat more, you’ve got to be sober tonight.”
Truth: A big meal before drinking will only delay getting drunk
Eating a full meal before you head to the bar or having teeny bites of food while drinking will only delay the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream, not prevent it. Ultimately you do consume the alcohol and face its damaging effects.
“Do you feel fine? Then you ARE fine!”
Truth: You’re not!
You might be able to count the fingers your friend is holding up, but that doesn’t mean your liver is alcohol-proof. Your not ‘feeling’ drunk is because the alcohol has been spaced out within your system but if there’s enough of it to reach your brain, you may conk off any moment.
“Drink water before crashing. It’ll reduce the damage.”
Truth: We have bad news if you’ve been doing this.
As with food, you are still absorbing the same units of alcohol you have consumed at the party or the bar. Drinking water before going to bed will only dilute your blood stream, not the damaging effects.
“I’m a tanki! Regular drinking has made my body alcohol-tolerant!”
Truth: There is no such thing.
If you’ve been consistently feeding your system with increasing amounts of alcohol, perhaps your system (effectively, your brain) is now tuned to an ‘x’ amount of alcohol to react. This doesn’t necessarily mean your liver damage will delay itself too.
(Sonal Holland runs the Sonal Holland Wine Academy and is an approved educator of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust’s courses in India)