Five Damaging Myths About Alcohol

Fermented beverages have been with us since time immemorial—and so have alcohol myths. Let’s look at a few persistent and painful ones.

As with any topic that people spend a lot of time discussing, myths about alcohol are rampant–even in this day and age, when we should know better. You’re probably carrying around a few yourself. Some are simply misinformation; but some can be dangerous if you don’t know better.

In this article, we’ll cover five.

Myth #1: Cooking alcohol makes it safe.

You’ll see this myth repeatedly in cookbooks, and it’s true that heat can “denature” alcohol to some extent. That is, it breaks down chemical bonds and boils off the alcohol itself, leaving only the flavorings that make the wine, beer or spirits culinarily unique.

But take care here. Recent studies show that the effect isn’t as thorough as previously thought, and depends on the stage of the recipe in which you introduce your alcoholic ingredient. Those soaked rum cakes are certainly more potent than you may expect.

Myth #2: Alcohol isn’t as dangerous as a drug.

Wrong: alcohol is a drug. Anything that can intoxicate you and make you take normal leave of your senses is. In fact, it’s the most commonly abused drug, probably because it’s mostly legal. Furthermore, alcohol has hurt more people and ruined more lives than all illegal drugs combined.

Myth #3: Lots of strong coffee will sober you up quickly!

Nope. Whatever you do, it’ll take a good hour for your body to process and get rid of each serving of alcohol (you’ve heard the old joke about how you don’t buy beer, you just rent it, ha ha). All coffee does is wake you up. Ditto for taking a cold shower.

Myth #4: You can tell when someone’s drunk.

If that were true, alcoholism wouldn’t be the #1 drug problem in America. Many people are very good at appearing sober, especially if they don’t move. And they may never act drunk, even when their judgment is sufficiently impaired that they shouldn’t even think of getting behind the wheel.

Myth #5: One or two drinks won’t hurt me, especially if I eat food with them.

Wrong. As a depressant, any amount of alcohol will slow down your reaction time and impair your judgment. Even one drink is dangerous if you’re driving. And while food does slow down your body’s absorption of alcohol, it won’t stop it; it will only delay the effect.

The Bottom Line

While we don’t intend this article to be teetotaler propaganda, the bald fact of the matter is that many of the things people “know” about alcohol are simply wrong. Just because it’s “common knowledge” and “everyone says so” doesn’t make any myth correct.

So take a close look, and don’t run afoul of these dangerous myths about alcohol.