Drinking Myths BUSTED

Becoming more responsible about drinking means knowing the facts, so let’s set the record straight for the myths I most commonly hear from students:

  1. Drinking caffeine helps sober me up.

Some people think the stimulant effects of caffeine can counteract alcohol, but actually the opposite is true. Research suggests that mixing caffeine and alcohol may impair judgment MORE than alcohol alone, although the reasons for this remain unclear. What is clear is that caffeine delays the sleepiness brought on by alcohol which A) leads to more risk-taking behavior because it keeps a drunker person awake longer and B) allows a person to continue drinking beyond his/her natural limit.

As for curing a hangover, caffeine isn’t much help here either. Although it may temporarily relieve a headache, the diuretic effect of caffeine will only intensify your hangover in the end.

  1. Eating bread prevents a hangover.

Although it sounds logical, bread does not “soak up” the alcohol in your system and therefore prevent a hangover. Nor does the carbon from burnt toast. In fact eating before bed does nothing to prevent a hangover the next day. So what does help?

BEFORE you drink: Eat fat and protein.

WHILE drinking: Stick to beer and clear liquor; avoid carbonated beverages; drink plenty of water.

AFTER drinking: Unfortunately, the only sure-fire remedy at this point is time and sleep. Taking OTC pain meds can help, but beware of acetaminophen (Tylenol). When combined with alcohol it can be toxic to the liver.

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

When it comes to alcohol, what and when you consume matters far less than HOW MUCH you consume. If you drink two shots and one beer in an hour, it will affect you about the same way, no matter the order of consumption. The best way to keep yourself from getting sick? Learn to track your blood alcohol content with this BAC calculator. http://www.ou.edu/oupd/bac.htm

  1. I drive better when I am typsy because I am being extra cautious.

Of all the myths I hear from students, this is the most DANGEROUS. Every 48 minutes, there is an alcohol-related driving fatality in the U.S., and people aged 21-24 are the most at risk. No matter how extra cautious you are or how high your tolerance may be, alcohol impairs your judgment, concentration, vision, and reaction time. PERIOD. The more you drink, the more impaired you are, and the higher your chances of dying in a car crash.

So….what about marijuana and driving? Research suggests marijuana may affect drivers less than alcohol and that high drivers tend to be more cautious than drunk drivers. But, marijuana significantly impairs concentration and tracking ability, making it more difficult for drivers to maintain a constant speed and stay in the middle of their lane. Drunk or high, you are still intoxicated, and your driving will be worse.

  1. All college students drink a lot.

College and drinking are like PB and J…Drinking is part of the “college experience”….I may drink a lot, but I drink far less than the “typical college student”……

It is true that full time college students drink more than their out-of-school peers, but a 2010 survey of UNC students found that 36% of students report not drinking at all in the last 30 days. Think about that for a minute. More than one third of your fellow students have had NOTHING to drink in the last month. Among students who drink, the majority drink 4 or fewer drinks PER WEEK. Students often overestimate the how often and how much their peers are drinking which perpetuates the cultural norms around college drinking. The next time you compare yourself to the “typical college student” take a moment to think about the 10,800 Carolina students who are not drinking at all.


What are some other drinking myths you’ve heard?

Or, maybe you’ve heard something and you are not sure whether it’s true.  Post it in the comments and we’ll fact-check it for you!


For more info on…

  • Alcohol in general:


  • Caffeine and alcohol:


  • Hangover cures:


  • Alcohol and your body:


  • Driving:


  • Drinking among college students:


2 thoughts on “Drinking Myths BUSTED

  1. Natalie Rich October 7, 2013 / 6:26 pm

    Thank you for your comment. Drinking water after drinking and BEFORE bed will indeed help ward off the dehydration effects in a hangover. I stressed maintaining hydration before drinking and during drinking simply because this also helps people pace themselves and may be easier than trying to get in all that water before bed. Hope this helps to clarify!


  2. Qbert October 7, 2013 / 5:54 pm

    WHILE drinking: Stick to beer and clear liquor; avoid carbonated beverages; drink plenty of water.

    AFTER drinking: Unfortunately, the only sure-fire remedy at this point is time and sleep. Taking OTC pain meds can help, but beware of acetaminophen (Tylenol). When combined with alcohol it can be toxic to the liver.

    I was just going to post that I was surprised you hadn’t listed that drinking plenty of water AFTER drinking will absolutely prevent a hangover (if you drink enough). Then I noticed you had that listed under WHILE drinking. Which doesn’t make as much sense, in my opinion, because very few people will drink water, then beer, then water, etc. Might as well just drink watered-down beer! Or for that matter, no beer! So maybe move it or list it twice? Anyway, thanks for the informative article!


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