drinking myths debunked

Has a friend ever told you a fact about alcohol that seems too good or too strange to be true? If so, this article may contain the sober truth you are seeking. From bizarre hangover cures to excuses for addiction, there is a lot of misinformation regarding alcohol consumption currently in circulation. Unfortunately, the more this misinformation spreads, the more prevalent alcohol abuse becomes. 

To gain more clarity about the dangerous misconceptions you’re likely to come across, here are five of the most common alcohol myths debunked:

#1 Hangover cures

From pickle juice to sports drinks to the “hair of the dog,” there are all sorts of commonly suggested hangover cures. It’s no secret that hangovers can give the worst feeling ever, and people will do almost anything to get rid of them. Unfortunately, the truth is that nothing can really “cure” your hangover. The reason for this is that when the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream drops to zero, you start feeling hangover symptom. Like nausea and headaches, most of these symptoms are caused by a toxic substance called acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is released as your body breaks down the alcohol, and there is no way to prevent this breakdown and release. Next time, consider skipping the pickle juice and drink some water instead to rehydrate your body and mitigate your symptoms. 

#2 “I drink because I have an addictive personality.”

I’m sure you’ve heard people say, “Oh, I just have an addictive personality,” when they are judged for their drinking habits. A common belief these people hold is that their excessive drinking is a product of their personalities. As a result, they have a more challenging time limiting the number of drinks they have and how often they drink. In reality, there is no single definition of an addictive personality. Saying “I have an addictive personality” is much like saying, “I’m just big-boned.” They are both vague explanations with little scientific evidence. That is not to say that certain personality traits do not contribute to addiction. But next time you’re looking for something to blame your alcohol consumption on, avoid vague statements and consider diving a little deeper into your motivations around drinking.

#3 “Alcohol makes me sleep better.”

Many people believe alcohol is an effective sedative before bed to calm the nerves and induce sleep. Interestingly enough, consuming alcohol before bed produces the opposite effect people expect. Alcohol prevents a chemical called adenosine from being processed by the brain. When adenosine is left alone, it causes the basal forebrain, an area responsible for wakefulness, to become inhibited (Thakkar et al 314), promoting better sleep. So, in the first half of sleep after consuming alcohol, you experience uninterrupted rest. Because of this deep sleep, the body overcompensates, and in the second half, your rest becomes interrupted (Thakkar et al. 314). This interruption in the second half of sleep is what leaves you feeling tired and drowsy throughout the day. So, if you want to get a good night’s sleep, consider skipping the nightcap.

#4 “I feel more of a buzz when I mix alcohol with energy drinks.”

Energy drinks are supposed to make you feel alert, while alcoholic beverages can numb your senses. So what happens when you mix the two? According to Verster, Aufricht and Alford (198), adding an energy drink to alcohol does not enhance the buzz you get from alcohol on its own. In fact, there are no significant differences between an alcohol drinker’s impairment levels and that of someone who mixed in an energy drink. Impairment, in this case, can be directly related to the “buzz” created by alcohol. So, mixing that energy drink with your vodka won’t actually add anything extra to the buzz you’re already feeling. 

#5 “A drink a day is okay.”

Anything is okay as long as it is taken in moderation, right? Wrong. An alcoholic drink a day is not okay. A study by Daviet et al. (7) confirms that drinking even one alcoholic beverage a day can reduce grey matter in the brain. Reduction in grey matter can lead to numerous issues like depression and memory disorders. So, next time someone swears by having a glass of red wine with dinner, pass on adopting this lifestyle choice.

Final Thoughts

Alcohol consumption is a slippery slope. While most of us can handle a drink or two on occasion, factors like body type, diet, and medical history are all things to take into account with your drinking habits. For example, if you have a history of liver disease in your family, you may want to limit your alcohol consumption slightly more than others. 

Hopefully, this article has provided you with some truth, shown some alcohol myths debunked, and maybe provided you with some fun facts to challenge your friends with at the next social event. If you’re unsure whether or not information surrounding drinking is true, be sure to consult with your doctor. 

Works Cited

Daviet, Remi, et al. “Associations between Alcohol Consumption and Gray and White Matter Volumes in the UK Biobank.” Nature Communications, vol. 13, 2022, p. 1175.

Kerr, John S. “Two Myths of Addiction: The Addictive Personality and the Issue of Free Choice.” Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, vol. 11, no. S1, 1996, pp. S9–13.

Thakkar, Mahesh M., et al. “Alcohol Disrupts Sleep Homeostasis.” Alcohol, vol. 49, no. 4, 2015, pp. 299–310.

True or False: You Can Cure a Hangover – Western New York Urology Associates, LLC. https://www.wnyurology.com/content.aspx?chunkiid=157014.

Verster, Joris C., et al. “Energy Drinks Mixed with Alcohol: Misconceptions, Myths, and Facts.” International Journal of General Medicine, vol. 5, 2012, pp. 187–98.