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Home > Special Features > Alcohol Myths

Alcohol Myths

Click each of the myths below to show the facts about alcohol.

Myth 1

I can drink and still be in control.

Fact 1

Drinking impairs your judgment, which increases the likelihood that you will do something you'll later regret. It increases the chance that you will cause harm to others and/or not be aware of potential dangers around you. Critical decision-making abilities are already diminished long before a person shows physical signs of intoxication.

Myth 2

Drinking isn't all that dangerous.

Fact 2

Many risks are associated with drinking, including impaired driving, unintentional injuries, violence, unsafe sexual behavior, suicide attempts, overdoses, and death. Even college students who don't drink may experience secondhand effects, such as disrupted study and sleep or being involved in an alcohol-related assault.

Myth 3

I can sober up quickly if I have to.

Fact 3

It takes about 2 hours for the adult body to eliminate the alcohol content of a single drink, depending on your weight. Nothing can speed up this process—not even coffee or cold showers.

Myth 4 (for women)

It's ok for me to drink to keep up with the guys.

Fact 4

Women process alcohol differently. No matter how much a guy drinks, if you drink the same amount as your male friends your blood alcohol concentration will tend to be higher, putting you at greater risk for harm.

Myth 5

Beer doesn't have as much alcohol as hard liquor.

Fact 5

A 12-ounce bottle of regular beer (about 5 percent alcohol by volume) has the same amount of alcohol as a 5-ounce glass of wine (about 12 percent alcohol by volume), or 1.5 ounce shot of liquor or distilled spirits (about 40 percent alcohol by volume).

Myth 6

I'll be better off if I learn to "hold my liquor."

Fact 6

For some people who drink, it takes quite a few drinks to "get a buzz" or feel relaxed, and they may be less likely to show signs of intoxication compared to others. This is sometimes called being able to "hold your liquor" or "drink someone under the table." Often they are unaware that their body's lower response to the intoxicating effects of alcohol isn’t protection from alcohol problems but instead is a reason for caution. These individuals tend to drink more, socialize with people who drink a lot, and develop a tolerance to alcohol, i.e., it takes more and more alcohol to feel or act intoxicated. As a result, they have an increased risk for developing AUD. Someone who drinks excessively, especially over the long-term, can experience permanent liver, heart, or brain damage. And all people who drink regardless of the amount need to be aware that critical decision-making abilities and driving-related skills are already diminished long before a person shows physical signs of intoxication.

Myth 7

I can manage to drive well enough after a few drinks.

Fact 7

The effects of alcohol start sooner than people realize, with mild impairment (up to 0.05 blood alcohol concentration [BAC]) starting to affect speech, memory, attention, coordination, and balance. And if you are under 21, driving after drinking any amount of alcohol is illegal and you could lose your license. The risks of a fatal crash for drivers with positive BAC compared with other drivers increase as the BAC increases, and the risks increase more steeply for drivers younger than age 21 than for older drivers. Critical decision-making abilities and driving-related skills are already diminished long before a person shows physical signs of intoxication.