Five Common Myths About Alcohol

August 18th, 2011

When a substance has been used in a culture for a long time, it inevitably becomes shrouded in urban legend. So it is with alcohol: much of the conventional “wisdom” we learn about alcohol use from our friends or even our family is misleading at best and dangerous at worst. Here we debunk five common legends related to alcohol use:

1. Best hangover treatment: the Hair of the Dog.

When you have a nasty hangover, a friend may advise you to partake of the “hair of the dog that bit you.” In other words, have another drink. Some people swear that this method alleviates their hangover symptoms, which it may, temporarily, because the additional drink produces another buzz. However, once the effects of the alcohol wear off, you find yourself with an even worse hangover than before.

2. Alcohol can be “soaked up” by food.

There’s something aesthetically pleasing about the idea that a piece of bread (or pizza or a burrito…you get the idea) can somehow absorb the alcohol floating around in your system. Unfortunately, if you are drunk, the alcohol has already been absorbed by your digestive system. Therefore, even if food did have the ability to somehow “soak up” alcohol, the alcohol has long since left your stomach by the time food gets in there.

3. Beer before liquor, never been sicker; liquor before beer, you’re in the clear.

This line of frat boy poetry may be fun to say, but it lacks any scientific backing. What really affects your level of intoxication is the number of drinks you consume, with a drink being 12 oz of beer, 4 oz of wine, or 1.5 oz of hard alcohol.

However, there is an ounce of truth in this goofy adage: once you are intoxicated, drinking hard alcohol is an especially bad idea, as such a small amount of liquid constitutes a drink. Therefore, if you are feeling a buzz, it’s in your best interest to sip on beer rather than vodka.

4. Never pop an ibuprofen while drinking alcohol.

While acetaminophen (commonly known as Tylenol) should be avoided while drinking alcohol (or soon afterward), ibuprofen and alcohol are a less concerning combination. However, since both substances can irritate the stomach lining, it is best to limit yourself when consuming both at the same time.

5.  “I’m kind of an alcoholic”.

If someone confides this to you out of concern for their drinking habits, it merits attention. However, people sometimes boast that they’re “kind of” an alcoholic because they think it makes them look rebellious, cool, etc. If someone is truly strugging with alcoholism or alcohol abuse, however, they will rarely reference their issues with such bravado. A clearer sign of alcohol abuse is that someone’s life seems to be severely compromised by alcohol use and they deny it, rather than brag about it.


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