Abstract: Alcohol Myths and Facts
Alcohol is a depressant that can affect your thoughts and perceptions, emotions, vision, hearing, movement and conscious awareness. It can also affect the ability to keep yourself safe and well.
Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to alcohol poisoning, loss of consciousness, coma or death.
To learn more about some of the myths and facts of alcohol, read on.
Alcohol Myths and Facts
Alcohol is a depressant. It slows the ability to process information and blocks some of the messages between the brain and the body. It alters a person's thoughts, perceptions, emotions, movement, vision, and hearing. Alcohol affects the ability to think logically, remember and process information. It impairs a person’s emotional stability, balance, co-ordination and motor skills. It compromises our ability to remain responsible and capable of keeping ourselves safe and well.
Excessive alcohol consumption can affect a person’s life support mechanisms, such as breathing, heart rate, temperature regulation, and brain function. This can cause a person to lose consciousness, become comatose, or die. Alcohol poisoning occurs at the point at which our system has become “toxic”, due to the large amounts of alcohol consumed in a short period of time i.e. binge drinking. When this occurs the body experiences violent vomiting, extreme sleepiness, unconsciousness, difficulty breathing, dangerously low blood sugar, seizures may occur, and death can result.
Here are some more facts to dispel some of the myths about alcohol:
Myth: Mixing your drinks will get you drunk more quickly.
Fact: It’s the alcohol content in your drinks that matters. The higher it is, and the more drinks you have, the more it will affect your body. How quickly alcohol affects you will depend on your age, gender, body mass and how much food is in your stomach. In particular, carbonated drinks such as champagne, or alcohol mixed with soft drink will get you drunk quicker, because the carbon dioxide rushes into your blood stream faster.
Myth: Coffee, cold showers, or fresh air helps you to sober up.
Fact: The only way to remove alcohol from your body is by giving your liver time to break down the alcohol and get it out of your system. Adding stimulants such as coffee or energy drinks won’t sober you; they’ll just keep you awake and drunk. Your body gets rid of alcohol at the rate of approximately one hour per standard drink consumed.
Myth: It's just beer. It can't harm your body.
Fact: It’s the total alcohol content that does the damage, and bingeing on any alcoholic drink can do major damage to your digestive system, liver, heart, stomach, and other organs - as well as losing years from your life.
Myth: It's none of my business if a friend is drinking too much.
Fact: Real friends don’t let other friends embarrass or harm themselves. When people get so drunk that they are unable to look after themselves, or are a danger to others, we have a responsibility to make them safe. Get them away from alcohol to a safe place where they can recover, and don't leave them until they are out of danger.
Tips to control your drinking
There are a number of things you can do to keep your drinking under control, including:
- Set limits for yourself and stick to them
- Start with a non-alcoholic drink
- Try having a 'spacer' - alternating non-alcoholic drinks with alcoholic drinks
- Drink slowly - take sips not gulps
- Try a low alcohol alternative to a pre-mixed drink
- Eat before or while you are drinking, avoid salty snacks, they make you thirsty
- Avoid rounds or 'shouts'
- Have one drink at a time, so you can keep track
- Avoid sculling competitions, and drinking games
- Stay busy - don't just sit and drink
- Be assertive - don't be pressured into drinking more than you want to.
Where can I get more information and help?
USC Student Wellbeing offers counselling services. Contact Student Wellbeing for more information or to make an appointment.
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This article is compiled by David Duncan, in partnership between Student Wellbeing and PUB 352 Public Health Project for the USC Health and Wellbeing Project.
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