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Alcohol Facts & Fiction

Myth
Alcohol destroys brain cells.
Fact
The moderate consumption of alcohol does not destroy brain cells. In fact it is often associated with improved cognitive (mental) functioning.

Myth
White wine is a good choice for a person who wants a light drink with less alcohol.
Fact
Standard Drinks graphically illustrates information on the equivalence of standard drinks of beer, wine and distilled spirits or liquor. Its accuracy has been established by medical and other health professionals.

A glass of white or red wine, a bottle of beer, and a shot of whiskey or other distilled spirits all contain equivalent amounts of alcohol and are they same to a Breathalyzer. A standard drink is:

  • A 12-ounce bottle or can of regular beer
  • A 5-ounce glass of wine
  • A one and 1/2 ounce of 80 proof distilled spirits (either straight or in a mixed drink).

Myth
Drinking coffee will help a drunk person sober up.
Fact
Only time can sober up a person…not black coffee, cold showers, exercise, or any other common “cures.” Alcohol leaves the body of virtually everyone at a constant rate of about .015 percent of blood alcohol content (BAC) per hour. Thus, a person with a BAC of .015 would be completely sober in an hour while a person with a BAC of ten times that (.15) would require 10 hours to become completely sober. This is true regardless of sex, age, weight, and similar factors.

Myth
Binge drinking is an epidemic problem on college campuses.
Fact
Binge drinking is clinically and commonly viewed as a period of extended intoxication lasting at least several days during which time the binger drops out of usual life activities. Few university students engage in such bingeing behavior. However, a number sometimes consume at least four drinks in day (or at least five for men). Although many of these young people may never even become intoxicated, they are branded as binge drinkers by some researchers. This practice deceptively inflates the number of apparent binge drinkers. In reality, the proportion of college students who drink continues to decline, as does the percentage of those who drink heavily.

Myth
Alcohol abuse is an increasing problem among young people.
Fact
Heavy alcohol use among people in the US 17 years of age or younger actually dropped by an amazing two-thirds (65.9 percent) between 1985 and 1997, according to federal government research.  The proportion of young people who consumed any alcohol within the previous month dropped from 50% to 19% in about the same period. Other federally funded research also documents the continuing decline in both drinking and drinking abuse among young people.  Similarly, alcohol-related traffic injuries and fatalities among young people continue to drop. Deaths associated with young drinking drivers aged 16 to 24 decreased almost half (47%) in a recent 15-year period.

Myth
Alcohol advertising increases drinking problems.
Fact
Hundreds of scientific research studies around the world have clearly demonstrated that alcohol advertising does not lead to increases in drinking abuse or drinking problems. Alcohol advertising continues because effective ads can increase a brand’s share of the total market.

Myth
Drunkenness and alcoholism are the same thing.
Fact
Many non-alcoholics on occasion become intoxicated or drunk. However, if they are not addicted to alcohol, they are not alcoholic. Of course, intoxication is never completely safe or risk-free and should be avoided. It is better either to abstain or to drink in moderation. While consuming alcohol sensibly is associated with better health and longer life, the abuse of alcohol is associated with many undesirable health outcomes.

Myth
Alcohol is the cause of alcoholism.
Fact
As a governmental alcohol agency has explained, “Alcohol no more causes alcoholism than sugar causes diabetes.” The agency points out that if alcohol caused alcoholism then all drinkers would be alcoholics.  In fact, a belief common among members of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is that people are born alcoholic and are not caused to be alcoholic by alcohol or anything in their experience. They argue that many people are born and die alcoholic without ever having had a sip of alcohol. Of course, a person can’t be a drinking or practicing alcoholic without alcohol.

For more Myths and Facts, visit: http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/AlcoholFactsAndFiction.html
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