Celebrating the spirit of the holiday season often means drinking holiday spirits. Most people celebrate responsibly, but during this season, more people are likely to drink beyond a safe limit than at other times of year. The consequences can range from fighting to falling to tragic car accidents. Despite knowledge of the dangers, myths around drinking abound, some of which can prove fatal.
Myth: Decision-making abilities and driving skills are not impaired until intoxication occurs.
Fact: Even a few drinks can diminish decision-making (including the decision of whether or not to drive!) and driving skills well before physical signs of intoxication. Though many people initially feel stimulated by a drink or two, alcohol can rapidly decrease good judgment and reaction times as its depressant effects take hold. Though one may not feel or appear drunk, the sharpness needed for good decisions and responsible driving can be compromised by even a small amount of alcohol.
Myth: If you’re not slurring your words or acting inebriated, it’s okay to drive.
Fact: Coordination needed for safe driving is compromised long before the signs of intoxication occur. Additionally, the sedative effects of alcohol increase the risk of losing attention or falling asleep behind the wheel.
Myth: After drinking all evening, it’s okay to drive after “sobering up.”
Fact: When people finish drinking, they often misjudge how long alcohol affects their driving abilities. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol’s effect on the body and brain may persist long after the final drink. Despite a cup of coffee or cold-shower, alcohol in the bloodstream can continue to impair judgment and coordination for many hours.
Myth: A couple of cups of coffee will sober you up.
Fact: Though caffeine may help avert drowsiness, it doesn’t affect the alcohol that’s still in your bloodstream impairing judgment or coordination. It may take hours for the body to return to normal after metabolizing alcohol. In this way, time (without additional alcohol) provides the only way to truly sober up.
Though there are many myths about drinking, driving, and other behaviors, the facts readily dispel each one of them. The Council on Recovery wants everyone in our community to be safe during this season and recommends adherence to the old adage, “Don’t Drink and Drive”, especially around the holidays. And, if you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol, drugs, or other addictive behaviors, call The Council today and give the gift of recovery.