GUEST POST | Michael Pines is a personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Michael Pines, APC in San Diego, California. Pines reached out to us to help communicate his ever-important message about responsible alcohol consumption. We at Alcoholmanac take this topic very seriously and hold it close to our hearts, as it is our purpose to communicate all sides of beverage culture. Safe sipping!
5 Drinking Myths Debunked: The Dos and Don’ts of Alcohol Consumption
By Michael Pines
When our bodies process alcohol, a multitude of variables come into play including weight, gender and foods eaten prior to imbibing. These factors and many others work together to give us a buzz or send us over the proverbial edge. So when it comes to understanding alcohol consumption, there are multiple components that contribute to how our bodies absorb alcohol.
Given the multiple variables involved in how alcohol is processed, it proves difficult to predict whether or not we are actually safe to drive. The truth is that all too often, people make the wrong decisions – sometimes mistakenly – when they drink alcohol and get behind the wheel.
When it comes to debunking common drinking myths, here’s what you need to know to stay safe – and most importantly, stay alive.
MYTH #1: FOOD HINDERS ALCOHOL ABSORPTION
Most of us already know that drinking on an empty stomach can result in quick drunkenness. That’s because the digestive process is one of the largest contributing factors in how alcohol is absorbed in the body.
Don’t assume a large meal clears you to drive
Just because you’ve eaten a large meal prior to drinking doesn’t mean you won’t get drunk. While it’s true that food will help delay the processing of alcohol, it does not mean that you are in the clear. Because the liver can only handle one drink per hour no matter your size, overindulging can quickly lead to an increased blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
Do eat plenty of protein prior to drinking
While food will not entirely stop alcohol absorption, it can help delay the effects as long as you are indulging in only one drink per hour. Foods rich in protein are an excellent choice and can work to your benefit by keeping a safe BAC, all while allowing you to enjoy the relaxing effects of alcohol.
MYTH #2: I’M NOT DRINKING HARD LIQUOR SO I SHOULDN’T BE THAT DRUNK
People who enjoy beer and wine often assume it is a “softer” kind of alcohol as opposed to the harder drinks like vodka, gin or whiskey. But no matter what kind of alcohol you drink, it can still contribute to an unsafe BAC.
Don’t assume beer and wine will get you “less drunk”
Different alcohol types are stronger in alcohol content than others, but whether you get drunk depends simply on how much you have to drink – not the type of alcohol you drink. Wine and beer drinkers are just as much at risk for a DUI or car accident then others who drink hard liquor.
Do know your limits
Regardless of the type of alcohol you drink, you should know that it is never safe to get behind the wheel after drinking. Lines can be too easily crossed. Also, keep in mind that factors like mood, gender and body fat contribute to the way your body processes alcohol, too – so one night of drinking can be dramatically different than another.
MYTH #3: I CAN HANDLE MY ALCOHOL PRETTY WELL!
Tolerance is a physiological effect that occurs when alcohol is consumed regularly. A person exhibiting functional tolerance of alcohol will generally appear less intoxicated than an individual who drinks alcohol less often.
Don’t get cocky
There’s an air of pride for some individuals when it comes to “handling their alcohol.” Regardless of the so-called bragging rights you may think you’re earning, it is never a good idea to think you are above the effects of alcohol consumption. While it’s true that functional tolerance leads to fewer physical indications of drinking, your BAC will rise nonetheless in the presence of alcohol.
Do seek professional help if your drinking gets out of control
It takes a big person to admit there’s a problem. If you suspect that your functional tolerance has crossed the line into functional alcoholism, consider talking to a professional such as your doctor or therapist for help.
MYTH #4: I CAN STILL DRINK WHILE TAKING MEDS – I FEEL FINE!
No doubt about it: mixing medications and alcohol can lead to dramatic, unwanted effects. Because alcohol is considered a drug, any combination of other medications along with drinking can lead to catastrophic results.
Don’t mix meds and alcohol
Interactions between alcohol and drugs – even over-the-counter – can cause changes in the properties of the drug, leading to an increased alcoholic effect. Pain killers or cold medicine when combined with alcohol can multiply the effects of alcohol considerably, and your BAC level may consequently rise even when you feel physically fine in the moment.
Do limit your intake
It goes without saying that your alcohol consumption should be limited when you are taking medication. If you need to take medication long-term, such as for depression or a chronic illness, be sure to discuss your alcohol consumption with your doctor prior to drinking. And always remember that drinking in the presence of drugs only amplifies its effects, so it’s never a good idea to get behind the wheel even when you have had little to drink.
MYTH #5: I HAD A DRINK AN HOUR AGO SO I AM SAFE TO DRIVE
How many times have we heard a drunken person utter those very words? The truth is that BAC levels can increase significantly just one hour after having a drink. That’s right – your alcohol concentration may actually be higher one hour after having imbibed. That’s because in the presence of multiple variables, your blood alcohol concentration levels can actually increase an hour later as the drink begins to get processed by your body.
Don’t get behind the wheel
The safest rule of thumb: just don’t drive! Any amount of alcohol increases your risk of getting into a car accident – and considering your BAC levels can rise even after waiting an hour after drinking, it’s just a risk not worth taking.
Do get a cab ride home
If you’ve had alcohol, it’s a safe bet to say you should get a cab instead of driving home. The best way to prevent an alcohol-related accident is by preplanning, so if you intend to participate in the night’s festivities, you should pre-pay your ride home or designate a driver well ahead of time.
About Michael Pines
Michael Pines is a personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Michael Pines, APC in San Diego, California. He is an accident and injury prevention expert, on a campaign to end senseless injury one article at a time.