Busting booze myths
Oct. 15 kicks off National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week, and with Halloween parties just around the corner, many of you will be faced with the decision of whether or not to drink. Knowing the facts about alcohol is one of the best ways to protect yourself from danger and keep yourself safe during the Halloween season. Below are a few common alcohol myths that seem to continue to circulate no matter how many times they are busted.
Myth #1: Sucking on a penny will trick a Breathalyzer
Despite being proven false multiple times by the television show Mythbusters, Snopes.com, Yahoo! Health and many others, people will still try anything to fool a Breathalyzer. The idea behind this urban legend is that sucking on a copper penny before blowing into a Breathalyzer creates some kind of chemical reaction with the alcohol on your breath and can alter the reading.
A Breathalyzer works by measuring the person’s blood alcohol level content after they have blown into the machine. It samples the air blown from deep in your lungs and provides a reading. There are many other variations of this myth including eating garlic, curry powder and even chewing vitamin C tablets. Most of these will give you bad breath, but they won’t hide how much you have had to drink.
Myth #2: “Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear. Beer before liquor, never been sicker.”
This myth stems from the assumption that your body can more easily metabolize weaker alcoholic drinks such as beer, and therefore it is better to end the night by drinking weaker drinks instead of taking another shot. The truth is it doesn’t matter what you drink. What does matter is how much you are consuming. Each drink, be it a beer, a shot, a glass of wine or even a margarita bigger than your head, all have different amounts of alcohol in them. If you really want to prevent getting sick, know your limits and be aware of just how much you are consuming.
Myth #3: Eating bread while drunk will absorb the alcohol and prevent a hangover
Food should be eaten prior to drinking to help prevent a hangover and to slow the absorption of alcohol into the blood stream. Once alcohol has been consumed and has entered the blood stream, food will not absorb the alcohol.
Myth #4: Someone who has passed out from drinking should just “sleep it off”
This is quite possibly one of the most dangerous myths out there.
Too often, party goers on college campuses are put in a room, away from the party, to sober up after passing out. Many are placed on their side with a bucket beside the bed and left alone for the night. Even after passing out, alcohol is still being absorbed into the blood stream, which can lead to alcohol poisoning and even death.
It is important to know the signs of alcohol poisoning, including irregular breathing, pale or blue colored skin and not being able to wake the person. If you see these signs it is your responsibility to call 911 immediately.
All myths aside, the best thing to remember is to be safe when drinking. Know your limits and never be afraid or embarrassed to say, “no, thanks.” If you do plan on drinking, appoint someone as the designated driver, or plan on calling a cab. And most importantly, if you ever see anyone with any signs of alcohol poisoning, call 911 immediately — you may just save someone’s life. So be responsible drinkers and stay safe this Halloween season.
Michelle Finley is an intern at the Student Health Center.