Myth: Alcohol is a stimulant.
Fact: Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. Although the initial effects of alcohol may be euphoric and seem stimulating, the cumulative effect of alcohol actually depresses the brain. The ability to make good judgments and decisions are depressed first, followed by loss of coordination and motor functioning (slurring and staggering). If taken in high enough dose, alcohol can depress the central nervous system so much that breathing and heartbeat will cease.
Myth: Alcohol is a great way to relax and reduce stress.
Fact: Alcohol increases the level of stress that is placed on the body. Adrenaline levels increase in the body as we drink. We may feel more relaxed when we drink alcohol, but the body actually comes under additional stress.
Myth: There are numerous ways to speed up the process of becoming sober.
Fact: The body's processing of alcohol requires a significant amount of time and cannot be sped up. This rate of metabolism varies for each individual and depends upon the liver's ability to break down the alcohol into several basic elements.
Myth: Alcohol is an aphrodisiac.
Fact: Alcohol reduces inhibitions and may stimulate your interest in sex, but it reduces your ability to perform and on sensitivity to stimuli.
Myth: Coffee, cold showers, and exercise will help sober someone up.
Fact: None of these methods will work. The blood alcohol concentration only diminishes at a set, slow, pace as the liver metabolizes the alcohol. Drinkers may feel more alert after drinking coffee or taking a cold shower, but the BAC will remain unchanged except for a certain metabolic rate per hour.
Myth: Coating your stomach with a greasy or milky solution will slow the absorption of alcohol and keep a person from getting drunk or sick.
Fact: The stomach cannot be "coated" to prevent alcohol absorption. However, individuals are encouraged to eat foods rich in carbohydrates and proteins before consuming alcohol. This slow-digesting food reduces the amount of alcohol that is absorbed directly into the blood stream through the mucous membrane lining of the stomach. Food also slows the rate of the stomach emptying into the small intestine, where absorption of alcohol occurs at a much faster rate.
Myth: It would be to my advantage if I could learn how to "hold my liquor".
Fact: If your usual amount of alcohol no longer gives you a "buzz" or you have to drink increasing amounts to feel any effect, you are developing a tolerance. Tolerance is a sign that the liver is being constantly exposed to alcohol and is working overtime to cope. It may also mean you have gone beyond being a social drinker and may be developing a more serious problem with alcohol.
Myth: Everybody reacts to alcohol the same way.
Fact: Alcohol affects everyone differently. In fact, an individual's reaction to alcohol can vary depending on the circumstances. There are dozens of factors that affect reactions to alcohol - body weight, gender, how you feel mentally, body chemistry, tolerance, your expectations, and the list goes on and on.
Myth: You'll get drunk a lot quicker with hard liquor than with a beer or wine cooler.
Fact: Alcohol is alcohol. In standard amounts, beer, wine coolers, wine, and hard liquor all have equivalent levels of alcohol and will make you equally intoxicated. A standard drink refers to any beverage with ½ ounce of pure ethanol alcohol: 12 ounces of beer or wine cooler, 5 ounces of table wine, 1 ounce of 100 proof hard liquor, or 1.25 ounces of 80 proof hard liquor.
Myth: Anyone who passes out from drinking too much should be put to bed and allowed to "sleep it off".
Fact: If a friend has had too much to drink and passes out, the worst thing you can do is drag them into a bedroom away from everyone else and close the door. Alcohol slows down the heart rate and breathing and lowers the blood pressure. The amount of alcohol it takes to make you pass out is dangerously close to the amount it takes to kill you. If a friend passes out, monitor their breathing and heart rate closely. If there is reason for concern, do not hesitate to get the individual medical attention. You may save their life.
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