Play It Safe This Holiday Season! Alcohol Myths and Facts

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The holidays are here! That means many social gatherings and parties where good food and libations are in abundance. For most of us, it is a time of happiness and togetherness, celebrating another successful year and welcoming a new beginning. However, far too often, we hear or we read about accidents and fatalities involving drivers under the influence of alcohol. It may be easy to think, “This would never happen to me,” but sometimes it is hard to decipher just how much drinking you may be able to tolerate while still having the judgment to operate a motor vehicle. Let’s look at some common myths about drinking and driving to help put things in perspective:

Myth: Cold showers, fresh air, or hot coffee help to sober a person.

Fact: The only thing that helps you to sober up is time; it takes the body an hour or so to eliminate a beer or glass of wine.

Myth: Beer is less intoxicating than other alcoholic beverages.

Fact: One 12 oz. beer, a 5 oz. glass of wine, and a 1.5 oz shot of hard liquor have the same alcohol content.

Myth: I know my own tolerance levels.

Fact: Multiple factors affect a body’s reaction to alcohol, including body chemistry, gender, how much food you have in your stomach, your weight, the time of day, medications and how fast you drink. The same amount of alcohol can affect you differently on different occasions due to these factors. It’s also important to remember that alcohol affects everyone uniquely.

Myth: Eating a big meal before or while you drink will help keep you sober.

Fact: Food only delays the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream.

Myth: I will drive slower.

Fact: Impaired drivers are unsafe at any speed, and driving slowly to compensate can also be dangerous.

If this isn’t enough information to dissuade you, it may be helpful to know what some typical effects of alcohol are on your body:

  • After about two alcoholic drinks*, you may experience relaxation, altered mood, slight body warmth, decreased attention and visual functioning.
  • Add a third alcoholic beverage, and your behavior becomes exaggerated, your alertness decreases, your coordination is reduced, your muscle control is diminished, and you begin to lose the ability to track moving objects.
  • After four drinks, your muscle coordination is poor, you are unable to concentrate, your short-term memory wanes, and your perception is impaired.

With all this in mind, what can you do plan ahead in order to enjoy a cocktail with friends and family while staying safe? Per the Centers for Disease Control, some safety measures include:

  • Having a designated driver
  • Giving someone else your keys
  • Calling a taxi or Uber

The easiest and safest bet is to just skip the alcohol altogether. After all, the holidays are about enjoying time with friends and family. Please keep the safety of yourself and others at the forefront of this holiday season.

*One alcoholic drink is equal to a 12 oz. beer, 5 oz. wine, or a 1.5 oz shot of hard liquor

Additional Resources: Get more information on Drunk or Impaired Driving

Mothers Against Drunk Driving

CDC - Impaired Driving: Get the Facts

National Highway Transportation Safety Administration

PBS Just One Night

Minnesota Safety Council

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