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Myths Of Alcohol.

Myth 1:

You really have to admire a person who can hold his/her liquor.

The person who can drink large quantities of alcohol without feeling the "normal" effects may have developed a tolerance to alcohol. Tolerance comes from chronic use of alcohol that results in physical and mental adaptation to its presence in the body. The development of tolerance is shown by an increase in the amount of alcohol required to produce the desired effects and can indicate the onset of physical dependence.


Myth 2:

Alcohol can be used as a food supplement.

Alcohol has no nutritional value. It contains no vitamins, minerals or proteins. It does contain a significant number of calories, however. The calories can produce an immediate source of energy which causes food that is normally used for energy production to be changed into fat and stored in the body for later use.


Myth 3:

Alcohol warms the body.

The direct action of alcohol causes a drop in the internal body temperature by the following process. The blood vessels are opened (dilated) on the skin surfaces and the blood is cooled by greater exposure to the outer environment. As the cooled blood circulates, the core temperature is lowered gradually, but significantly. This process is continued as long as alcohol is present in the body.


Myth 4:

Alcohol is a stimulant drug.

Alcohol is a depressant; it sedates the central nervous system. One of the first areas of the brain to be affected is the cerebral cortex, which controls judgment, self-control and inhibitions. The depression on this part of the brain may result in excitable behavior, as inhibitions are lost.


Myth 5:

Hangovers are caused by switching drinks.

Hangovers are caused by the amount of alcohol consumed and the rate at which it is consumed, not by the kind of alcohol consumed. While metabolizing alcohol, the liver cannot perform its normal functions, one of which is keeping the blood sugar at a normal concentration. The results of this state called hypoglycemia, or lower than normal blood sugar. The change in blood vessels, as mentioned in Myth 3, can cause headaches. Lastly, a hangover is actually a "mini-withdrawal." When the central nervous system is released from the depressed state, the opposite state develops-feeling edgy and irritable. This effect is known as "rebound."


Myth 6:

Alcoholics drink every day.

Alcoholics are of many kinds: those who drink daily; those who drink on weekends; those who drink in binges which could occur weeks, months or even years apart. The measure of alcoholism is not when or how often one drinks, but whether or not one can control the drinking once it begins.


Myth 7:

You can't become an alcoholic by drinking only beer.

Actually, Americans drink almost ten times as much beer as they do "hard" liquor. Although the content of alcohol in beer is relatively low, this means that one-half the alcohol drunk is consumed as beer. Given these facts, it seems reasonable to say that there are many alcoholics who are only beer drinkers.


Myth 8:

Black coffee or a cold shower sobers a drunk.

Black coffee and cold showers only produce wide-awake drunks. Only time will rid the body of alcohol. There is no known way of speeding the metabolic process of eliminating alcohol from the body.


Myth 9: Drinking perks you up at parties

One of the biggest misconceptions around alcohol is that it gives you energy, which may motivate you to drink more, especially during social situations.


“Especially throughout the holiday season, many of us struggle with fatigue and excess stress,” Dr. Janesz notes. “We may look to alcohol at a holiday party to dissipate that fatigue, enhance our energy level and relieve stress.”


But alcohol is a brain-depressant. It first acts by shutting off executive functions like judgment, mood control and natural inhibitions. Some people experience this as a sense of thrill and excitement. But others experience the opposite: sleepiness, lethargy and even a depressed feeling.


The bottom line? Alcohol interferes with normal brain activity, no matter how you feel when you drink.


Myth 10: A beer before bed helps you sleep

Using any kind of alcoholic beverage to help you sleep is always going to backfire, even if in the moment it feels like it’s helping.


“Drinking a beer before bed may get you to fall asleep more quickly,” says Dr. Janesz. “However, it interrupts your deep sleep, and you’ll wake later on feeling not rested and hungover.”


Normally, your body cycles through light and deep phases of sleep. Alcohol inhibits refreshing REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and later on causes “REM rebound,” with nightmares and trouble sleeping.


Repeated alcohol use seriously disturbs sleep and makes it difficult to re-establish a normal sleep pattern. Often, this leads to more drinking or to sedative abuse in the quest for sleep.


Myth 11: An Irish coffee will keep you warm on the slopes

You may have heard that an alcoholic drink — especially something like an Irish coffee or hot toddy — can warm your body up when it’s cold. But that’s just a temporary sensation you’re feeling.


“Alcohol intake may make your skin feel warm,” acknowledges Dr. Janesz. “Yet it deceptively lowers the core temperature of your body.”


Your body normally stores warm blood in its core to preserve important organ functions. Alcohol artificially dilates blood vessels in your extremities, allowing warm blood to escape from your core into your peripheral circulation, where it cools. The result: Your body can no longer keep vital organs warm as your overall temperature drops.


In other words, when you’re dealing with harsh conditions, don’t depend on a drink to keep you toasty.


Myth 12: A beer is less potent than a cocktail

There’s also a lot of myths around the different types of alcohol and how they affect you.And while drinking a casual beer with friends may feel less intense than a spirited cocktail, they’re more similar than you might think.


According to Dr. Janesz, whether you’re drinking a pale ale or a Moscow Mule, you’re typically consuming a similar amount of alcohol. But regardless, “Any alcohol beverage you consume will have a similar effect on your body and on your ability to function.”


This myth can especially be harmful if it causes you to drink more than you can handle — so always pay attention to the alcohol content in your drinks and be honest with what your body can manage.


Myth 13: Coffee can sober you up when you’ve had a few too many

While it may feel like coffee is bringing you back to life in many ways, you shouldn’t depend on it to get alcohol out of your system. In truth, coffee has no real effect on your blood alcohol level, which is the major factor in determining your level of intoxication.


“Drinking coffee or other caffeine products after having one too many drinks can trick your brain into making you feel energized and more awake or alert,” warns Dr. Janesz.


In other words, coffee may just mask the feeling of being drunk, which is still not good. In reality, you need to know if you’ve had too many or not. “The alertness can create the perception that you aren’t as drunk or intoxicated as you actually are, and you may decide to have another drink or to drive 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he adds.


Instead, you should keep track of how long alcohol can stay in your system, drink lots of water and wait for your body to clear it all out. Unfortunately, there aren’t any shortcuts.


Myth 14: All sexes react to alcohol in the same way

Drinking tends to produce higher blood alcohol concentrations in women than men because of a difference in body weight and composition. This leads to a greater degree of intoxication for women.


“Alcohol disperses in water, and women have less water in their bodies than men,” explains Dr. Janesz. “So, if a woman and man of the same weight consume the same amount of alcohol, her blood alcohol concentration will usually rise more rapidly than his.”


But while women may reach the “drunk driving” limit — 0.08 percent blood alcohol — sooner, alcohol can impair driving at much lower blood alcohol levels. So “don’t drink and drive” remains sound advice for everyone.


Myth 14: Drinking reduces stress and anxiety

If you’ve ever heard the phrase that a couple of cocktails can “take the edge off” after a long week at work, you may believe the myth that alcohol can calm you down. And while alcohol can initially make you feel looser and at ease (again, because it’s a depressant), the effects don’t last long. In fact, alcohol may actually cause more anxiety the day after.


So, while you may temporarily feel at ease in the moment, you can feel more stressed the day after.


If you use alcohol as a way to numb your symptoms of anxiety, this can also make the symptoms worse down the line — due to the fact that you’re not learning how to cope with your emotions properly.


“Many of us look for a quick fix to resolve our pain. We all have developed habits of reinforcing immediate gratification and needing instant results,” explains Dr. Janesz. “Another issue with numbing your symptoms of anxiety is that over time, we develop a tolerance to alcohol and we are required to drink more alcohol for us to have the same numbing effect.”


Myth 15: Alcohol only hurts your liver

If a recent doctor’s appointment told you that your liver is in good shape, don’t think that’s a free excuse to drink heavily. In fact, drinking can affect other parts of your body as well. This includes your heart, blood pressure, kidneys and mental health.


As Dr. Janesz explains, when you ingest alcohol, most of the alcohol is absorbed through the mucous membrane of your throat and esophagus, where it enters your bloodstream and compromises all parts of your body.


“Alcohol is also inflammatory and increases your risk of cancer and other diseases,” he says.


Myth 16: Mixing energy drinks and alcohol is OK

You may think that mixing an energy drink with your cocktail will help combat alcohol’s drowsiness effects. But this isn’t a good idea.


For the same reasons why you shouldn’t mix alcohol with caffeine, this energy-drink combo can also cause masked intoxication — which can lead to consumption of more alcohol than your body can handle. It can also cause increased dehydration, sleep disruption and even heart issues.


Myth 17: Drinking more alcohol can cure a hangover

Last but not least, the “hair of the dog” method is another alcohol myth that gets repeated one too many times. Essentially, this “trick” claims that you can kill your hangover with more alcohol. Of all the shady hangover cures out there, this one may be the most harmful.


This is because while it may feel like you’re taking the edge off your hangover and nausea by downing more drinks, doing this will only prolong your recovery process. All you’re doing is adding more toxins to your body that’s already working overtime to clean out the alcohol you’ve already consumed.


Myth 18: Alcohol isn’t as harmful as other drugs.


Fact: Alcohol increases your risk for many deadly diseases, such as cancer.  Drinking too much alcohol too quickly can leads to alcohol poisoning, which can kill you.


Myth 19: I can sober up quickly by taking a cold shower or drinking coffee. 


Fact: On average, it takes 2 to 3 hours for a single drink to leave the body. Nothing can speed up the process, including drinking coffee, taking a cold shower, or “walking it off”. 


Myth 20: Beer and wine are safer then liquor.


Facts: Alcohol is alcohol… it can cause you problems no matter how you consume it.  One 12-ounce bottle of beer or a 5-ounce glass of wine (about a half a cup) has as much alcohol as a 1.5 ounce shot of liquor. Mixed drinks often contain more alcohol than beer. 


Myth 21: Men and women of the same height and weight can drink the same.


Fact: Women are affected more rapidly because they tend to have a slightly higher proportion of fat to lean muscle tissue, thus concentrating alcohol a little more easily in their lower percentage of body water. They also have less of an enzyme (dehydrogenase) that metabolizes or breaks down alcohol.


Myth 22: 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 doses, alcohol can depress the central nervous system so much that breathing and heartbeat will cease.


Myth 23: 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 24: 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 25: 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 26: 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.


Myth 27: Everyone drinks.


Fact: More than one-third of adults did not consume alcohol in the past year (and more than 45% reported “light drinking,” defined as fewer than three drinks per week), according to the CDC.


Myth 28: Alcohol is legal, so it can’t be all that harmful.


Fact: Drinking to excess is linked to 95,000 deaths a year in the U.S., as well as higher risks of car crashes; falls, burns and other injuries; and alcohol poisoning. Most people know there's a link between alcohol abuse and liver disease. But excessive drinking has also been linked to higher rates of:


Heart disease

Stroke

Some cancers

A weakened immune system

Depression

Anxiety

Learning and memory problems

Myth: It can’t happen to me.


Fact 29: There's no such thing as a "typical alcoholic." Some people are at higher risk, including those with family histories of substance abuse or who have mental health conditions like depression or posttraumatic stress disorder. But it can affect anyone. Many people with alcohol use disorder are still able to hold down jobs and relationships. From the outside, it may look like they don't have problems with alcohol.


Myth 30: All alcohol use disorders are the same.


Fact: The disease can be mild, moderate, or severe, based on how many symptoms you have and how serious they are. To see how serious it is, your doctor will ask questions about how much alcohol you drink and how it affects you. Those effects might range from a hard time quitting, to a loss of interest in favorite activities, to withdrawal symptoms. Your doctor will also ask about how your drinking affects your loved ones. Even mild alcohol use disorder needs to be treated.


Myth 31: It’s OK to get drunk on weekends because I don’t drink all week.


Fact: Not everyone who misuses alcohol drinks daily. Excessive drinking is defined as 15 or more drinks per week for men, and eight or more per week for women. But it also includes binge drinking, which is five or more drinks (for men) or four or more drinks (for women) on a single occasion. Binge drinking is actually the most common form of excessive drinking.


Myth 32: It doesn’t affect anyone else when I drink too much.


Fact: Alcohol misuse can cause many problems, ranging from missed school or work obligations to arrests for driving while intoxicated. Excessive drinking can also lead to issues in your relationships, including family violence.


Myth 33: People can stop drinking any time.


Fact: Those with alcohol misuse disorder can't control their alcohol use, and it gets worse over time. It may start out when you drink more, or more often than you planned. You might try to cut down but not succeed. Eventually, you need to drink more alcohol to feel the effects. You may have nausea, sweating, crankiness, and other withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop drinking.


Myth 34: There's no treatment for alcohol use disorder.


Fact: A treatment plan for alcohol use disorder may include:


Prescription medications to reduce your urge to drink

Counseling or other behavioral therapies to help you develop coping skills

Support groups (virtual or in person) to provide encouragement and motivation for behavior changes.


MYTH 35: Alcohol gives you energy.

FACT: Actually, it’s the opposite. Alcohol is a drug. It’s a depressant and slows down your ability to

think, speak and move. Even at low levels, it affects your perception, coordination and judgement, long

before any physical signs of impairment occur.


MYTH 36: Switching between beer, wine and spirits will affect you more than sticking to one type of

alcohol.

FACT: Wrong. Your blood alcohol concentration or BAC – the percentage of alcohol in your blood – is

what counts, not the beverages consumed. Alcohol is alcohol.


MYTH 37: You’ll be more affected by spirits than by beer or a wine cooler.

FACT: A drink is a drink is a drink. A 330ml bottle of beer (5% alc. /vol.), a 150ml glass of wine (12%

alc./vol.) and a 40ml serving of spirits (40% alc./vol.) are all equal in absolute alcohol content.


MYTH 38: It’s just beer. It can’t permanently damage you.

FACT: Any kind of alcohol, if consumed irresponsibly, has the potential to seriously damage your

digestive system. Alcohol abuse can damage your brain, heart, liver, stomach and other critical organs.

Not to mention that it could also take years away from your life.


MYTH 39: Everybody reacts the same way to alcohol.

FACT: Everyone is different. There are dozens of factors that affect reactions to alcohol: your gender,

body weight, body chemistry, time of day, how you feel mentally, fatigue – and the list goes on.


MYTH 40: Eating a big meal before you drink will keep you sober.

FACT: Food in your stomach only delays the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. A full stomach

doesn’t prevent the effects of alcohol or intoxication.


MYTH 41: You can drink and still be in control.

FACT: Alcohol impairs your judgement, which increases the likelihood that you will do something you’ll

regret, such as having unprotected sex, being involved in crime, damaging property, or being

victimised by others.


MYTH 42: The worst thing that can happen when you drink too much is ending up with a raging hangover.

FACT: If only. For one thing, if you drink a lot of alcohol quickly, it can build up in your body so much

that you can die from alcohol poisoning within only a few hours. As well, you’re more prone to injury,

which can be serious or fatal. You may also end up getting behind the wheel of a car and severely

injuring or killing someone – or yourself, definitely much worse than a hangover.


MYTH 43: One drink won’t affect your driving.

FACT: People have trouble judging how seriously alcohol has affected them. That means many

individuals who drive after drinking one drink think they can control a car – but they’re wrong. This can

have deadly consequences.

This document has been prepared by the Drug & Alcohol Strategy Coordinator

(January 2012)


MYTH 44: A cold shower and a cup of coffee are good ways to sober up.

FACT: Although they may make you feel clean and awake, nothing sobers you up but time. Coffee is a

stimulant – it’ll keep you awake but won’t sober you up.


MYTH 45: If someone passes out after drinking, it’s best to let them sleep it off.

FACT: If a friend or a guest passes out, never leave them alone. Have someone call 999 for medical

assistance. Be sure to roll them onto their side, with their head on its side as well, until help comes.


MYTH 46: There is no point in postponing drinking until you’re 18.

FACT: Research shows that the longer you postpone drinking, the less likely you are to ever experience

alcohol-related problems. Plus, it’s against the law for a young person in Guernsey to buy alcohol or to

be drinking alcohol in a public place under the age of 18.


MYTH 47: Teens can’t become alcoholics because they haven’t been drinking long enough.

FACT: You can develop alcoholism at any age. It depends how much and how often you drink.


MYTH 48: It’s none of my business if a friend is drinking too much.

FACT: If you’re a real friend, it is your business. You can’t make them change, but you can be honest.

Who knows? Maybe they’ll listen. You might even be able to help them decide to get help.


MYTH 49: Drugs are a bigger problem than alcohol.

FACT: Alcohol is a drug – and one of the deadliest. Alcohol misuse and abuse is a massive cost to

Guernsey. These costs include health care, law enforcement, fire and property damage, and

productivity losses.


MYTH 50: Alcohol makes you sexier.

FACT: Alcohol clouds your judgement and makes you less inhibited. You could end up engaging in

something you hadn’t planned on, including unprotected and/or unwanted sex. That puts you at risk of

unwanted pregnancy and contracting sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV), definitely not sexy.


MYTH 51: People who drink too much only hurt themselves.

FACT: Everyone who drinks has a parent, grandparent, sibling, friend, boyfriend or girlfriend who

worries about them. And what if the problem drinker flunks out of school or gets behind the wheel of a

car and kills someone?