15 Common Drinking Myths Debunked

When it comes to alcohol, everyone's an expert, aren't they? They start as soon as the first drink is poured: spouting dubious statistics, recalling horror stories, and moralizing about what you should and should not do while drinking. There are more myths, fables, and tall tales surrounding alcohol than almost any other subject - and hearing them recited everywhere drinks are served is pretty irritating. So today, we'll debunk 15 booze myths you can safely ignore whenever and wherever they are told. [via sloshspot]

Myth #1: "Beer before liquor makes you sicker."


This myth has become a proverb of drinking, offered as a ghastly warning whenever someone dares to enjoy vodka or jager after downing a few beers. Arguing with them triggers an avalanche of stories about "what happened to so and so's brother up at college" or how you "should've been here when Jimmy did that last week." But despite these stories and warnings, it's just flat-out not true! While it is generally smart to avoid mixing drinks, nutritionists have stated time and time again that doing so is no guarantee of getting sick.

Myth #2: "Being drunk improves your sex drive."


No, it doesn't. While you might be saying. "I really do want to have sex more when I'm drunk!" But here's what's actually going on: alcohol lowers your inhibitions about having sex. If you are normally too shy to aggressively hit on girls, drinking will kill those fears and unleash a skirt-chasing side of you that does not exist when you are sober. Unfortunately, being drunk makes it harder for you to - ahem, perform - when your newfound confidence lands you in bed with a woman.

Myth #3: "Drinking kills your brain cells."


This myth is an old one, originating from the same people who said that having alcohol in your bloodstream could make you catch fire and burn alive. And until recently, it was never actually challenged. The fact that it scared people from drinking seemed to matter more than whether it was true. But according to modern science, the opposite is true. Far from killing your brain cells, moderate alcohol consumption has actually been shown to improve cognitive functioning and help preserve the brain's capabilities into old age.

(Obviously, this is not an endorsement of binge drinking or alcoholism. Overdoing it probably wont do your brain any favors, but there is no chance of last night's beer pong tournament dragging down your grades.)

Myth #4: "You're going to get a beer belly!"


For as long as beer has been sold, it has been blamed for making drinkers fat. But like our last myth, science has put this one to bed. According to the BBC, British scientists surveyed roughly 2,000 Czech Republic drunks (widely known as some of the heaviest drinkers on Earth), and saw "no link between the amount of beer they drink and the size of their stomachs." Instead, scientists suggest that people with "beer bellies" may be genetically predisposed to becoming fat. So if you have one, it's either because of that or because you could stand to do some crunches once in a while.

Myth #5: "Youth drinking is on the rise in America."


The next time your parents complain about "all the young people drinking today", tell them this: the number 12-17 year olds who drank alcohol in the previous month dropped over 30% between 1979 and 1998. There has not been any significant rise since then, and the only reason people think otherwise is because the media obsesses over every youth drinking story it finds. Repeat something often enough, and sooner or later most people will believe it's true.

Myth #6: "Men and women of equal height can drink the same amount."


We're all for equality of the sexes, but women simply cannot handle as much alcohol as men. They have less of the dehydrogenase enzyme (responsible for breaking down alcohol in the bloodstream), and the hormonal changes during "that time of the month" are known to affect alcohol absorption as well. (Big surprise there!)

Myth #7: "Drink often enough and you'll get addicted."


The truth is that who does the drinking is more important than how much they drink. Most scientists now believe that people have (or don't have) addictive personalities, comprised of traits like impulsive behavior, low frustration tolerance, and chronic high stress. That's why it's no surprise when alcoholics are also gambling or drug addicts - their personality predisposed them to abusing those things, too. So unless you find yourself drinking to get through tough times, don't stress about it.

Myth #8: "Coffee will sober you up."


Everyone has their own pet theory on how to sober up in a hurry. Drinking coffee is the most common. The basic idea is that since alcohol is a depressant and coffee is a stimulant, the two will cancel each other out and return you to some kind of normal state. Too bad it doesn't work. You'll be wide awake, but you'll still be drunk .

Myth #9: "Someone who passes out drunk just needs to sleep."


Remember John Bonham? He's the Led Zeppelin drummer who choked to death on his own vomit while asleep. Why didn't the vomiting wake him? Because when you're so drunk that you lose consciousness, normal discomforts aren't enough to stir you out of your sleep. So instead of pouring out of your mouth, vomit sinks into your lungs and drowns you as if you were underwater. Unless you want this to happen, keep the unconscious drunk upright (or bring him/her to the hospital - they might have alcohol poisoning.)

Myth #10: "Asprin can prevent hangovers."


This myth is the exact opposite of the truth. According an American Medical Association study, taking aspirin will actually make your body metabolize alcohol slower, thereby increasing the amount of it in your blood and prolonging the undesirable effects (like hangovers) of drinking. As Cracked.com says:

"First of all, what kind of magical fucking aspirin are you taking that has the tenacity to still be fighting a headache well into the morning? It's not methamphetamine. Even if popping an aspirin before drinking did do anything to fight a hangover, its powers would have run their course well before you needed help."

Myth #11: "Beer is less intoxicating than other drinks."


Beer drinkers like to say that they "only drink beer", as if that gives them some kind of moral high ground over people who like mixed drinks. But here's the truth: beer is just as intoxicating as other drinks. A 12 ounce can of beer, a 4 ounce glass of wine, and any typical mixed drink have the same amount of alcohol in them, and are equivalent no matter how differently people perceive them. So tell your smug beer-drinking friends to give up the holier than thou attitude!

Myth #12: "Alcohol warms you up."


Countless people have reported feeling warmer after they threw back a few drinks. So how could this possibly be a myth? Simple - the warmth is just an illusion. Drinking makes blood rise up to the skin's surface, which makes you feel warm but actually drops your body temperature because surface heat is lost. Amazingly, this has been known since the 1800's, and still gets told at parties nationwide. Don't be a jackass: if you're outside in frigid winter weather, drinking is more likely to lead to frostbite than warm you up.

Myth #13: "Sucking on a penny will trick a breathalyzer."


As Fermentarium.com notes, "we couldn’t even find the fake science behind this myth." The bare, crass fact is that nothing we know of can fool a breathalyzer test. If you've had too much to drink and reach this point, you're more or less screwed. If you're foolish enough to put a penny in your mouth, well then you are just tasting one of the dirties things in circulation.

Myth #14: "The darker a beer, the more alcohol it contains."


It's true that a dark beer can look mysterious and more intoxicating than a lighter one, but there's absolutely no truth to this. The color of a beer has nothing to do with how much alcohol it contains, and anyone bragging (or preaching) about the color of theirs is only fooling themselves.

Myth #15: "Ads for alcohol cause more drinking problems."


The clue train is coming, next stop is you: nobody ever saw an ad for alcohol and decided, solely based on that, to start drinking. Study after study has proven this. Interestingly, those ridiculous "scare you from drinking" ads don't seem to work either. Either the drinking companies and the government hires crappy advertisers, or advertising has no impact on whether people drink or not. We'll let you be the judge.

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