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Alcohol Myths

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Driving after only one or two drinks is no big deal.

Myth.

Drinking and driving is never OK. Impairment begins with your first drink.

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A big meal doesn’t stop the effects of alcohol.

Fact.

Food in your stomach only delays the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. A full stomach doesn’t stop the effects of alcohol or intoxication.

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Switching between different types of alcohol will intoxicate me more.

Myth.

Alcohol is alcohol. Your blood alcohol concentration, or BAC — the percentage of alcohol in your blood — is what counts, not the types of drinks consumed.

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Everyone reacts to alcohol the same way.

Myth.

Everyone is different. There are dozens of factors that affect reactions to alcohol, such as your gender, body weight and body chemistry, the time of day, how you feel mentally, fatigue — the list goes on.

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Alcohol gives you energy.

Myth.

Alcohol is a depressant, and it slows down your ability to think, speak and move. Even at low levels, it affects your perception, coordination and judgment, long before any physical signs of impairment occur.

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I’ll sleep better if I’ve had a few drinks.

Myth.

Alcohol may help you fall asleep, but it interferes with the quality of sleep you get.

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A cold shower and a cup of coffee are good ways to sober up.

Myth.

A shower will make you feel clean and a coffee may keep you awake, but nothing sobers you up other than time. Even if your body has metabolized the alcohol in your system, if you’ve had a lot to drink, please don’t drive the next morning.

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Alcohol makes me more attractive.

Myth.

Alcohol clouds your judgment and makes you less inhibited. You could end up doing something risky you hadn’t planned on or wouldn’t normally do, including having unprotected and/or unwanted sex. Also, physiologically, it reduces your performance.

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If someone passes out after drinking, I should call 911.

Fact.

If a friend or guest passes out, never leave them alone. Have someone call 911. And be sure to roll them onto their side, with their head on its side as well, until help arrives.

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I can only become an alcoholic after years of drinking.

Myth.

You can develop alcoholism at any age. It all depends on how much and how often you drink.

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It is my business if a friend drinks too much.

Fact.

If you’re a real friend, it is your business if your friend drinks too much. You can’t make them change, but you can be honest. Maybe they’ll listen. You might even be able to help them decide to get help.

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Drinking can cause things worse than a hangover.

Fact.

If you drink a lot of alcohol quickly, it can build up in your body so much that you can die of alcohol poisoning within only a few hours. Also, you’re more prone to injury, which can be serious or fatal, especially if you’re behind the wheel of a car. That’s definitely much worse than a hangover.


Learn More

To learn more about alcohol and its effects, call the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Drug, Alcohol and Mental Health Information Line at 1-800-463-6273. In Toronto, call 416-595-6111 or visit the website at camh.net. You can also call the Drug and Alcohol Registry of Treatment (DART) at 1-800-565-8603 or check out dart.on.ca to find out about treatment services in your community and throughout Ontario.

Adapted with permission from the American Academy of Pediatrics’ “Debunking the Myths of Alcohol” © 2000 –American Academy of Pediatrics with the exception of those marked *, which are adapted with permission from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s “Top Ten Myths About Alcohol.”