“Liquor before beer, never fear,” they say. But is the rumor fact or fiction?
Hangovers are the worst, and so are the myths that cloud the facts behind their cause and cure.
When it comes to alcohol, most college students seem to mask the truth with myths on drinking, hangovers or the “liquor before beer, you’re in the clear” and “beer before liquor, never sicker” rules. Inaccurate ideas are formulated in students’ minds and are passed from one source to the next. Among these falsities, some truths can be found if you look into the stories behind them.
After waking up one morning with a killer headache, it is easy to analyze the night before and come to the conclusion that drinking those five Keystones and then taking a few shots of Vladimir vodka was clearly a violation of the liquor-before-beer rule, therefore causing your head to throb and your stomach to churn.
You will experience a hangover when you’re dehydrated and your body is depleted of nutrients the brain needs to function and break down the toxic chemicals introduced by the alcohol, said Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, author of Fatigued to Fantastic! and Pain Free 1-2-3.
The liquor-before-beer rule may be one of the most common myths about avoiding sickness or hangovers when drinking, but it is not the only myth students believe.
Lev Katz, a junior biology pre-med major, knows of some myths of how to sober up.
“It’s definitely not true when people tell you to eat bread and things like that after you’re done drinking to make you less drunk,” Katz said. “People think bread absorbs all the alcohol when it really doesn’t.”
Healthy fats like avocados and walnuts, along with fructose-rich tomatoes and honey, absorb alcohol and allow your body to metabolize it, Dr. Michael Roizen, chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic, said.
Eating alone does not absorb alcohol. The liver is the primary factor for metabolizing alcohol. It takes your liver one hour to metabolize one standard drink, which is 1.5 ounces of liquor, 12 ounces of beer or 5 ounces of wine.
Although there are many delusions, some students have accurate suggestions for hangover remedies.
“Coconut water is really good for hangovers. It helps hydrate you and contains electrolytes your body needs,” junior Aylin Erinc said.
Alcohol depletes the body of electrolytes and potassium, and coconut water contains both.
Hydration is essential to keeping the hangover at bay, both before bed and throughout the next day.
“Chugging water right before you go to bed tends to help me,” Erinc said. “It dilutes the alcohol from the night before and keeps you hydrated.”
“For every alcoholic drink you have, you should drink a glass of water,” senior electrical engineering major Fredy Barrera said.
While both students may be right, the main reason for a post-drinking headache is primarily due to another factor.
“The headache happens when the blood alcohol level is falling,” said Dr. Brian Grosberg, director of the Inpatient Headache Program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, on an ABC news blog.
He said your body becomes dependant on the chemicals in alcohol, so when it begins to leave your body, your body goes through a slight withdrawal.
Another common myth is the idea that “the spins” are caused by either drinking too much or mixing alcohols.
“Alcohol has less density than blood, allowing it to pass through the blood brain barrier therefore, allowing direct contact to the brain,” Katz said. “I also know because of its density, it can reach the ears, causing them to fill up with more liquid than they can handle. That’s why you get ‘the spins.’”
However, every person’s body reacts to alcohol in different ways.
“I told myself I was going to cut down on drinking [and] just have one or two drinks when I go out instead of five or six,” Yrcanis Collado, a senior communications major, said. “Drinking doesn’t make me feel good about myself. It does at the time, but not the next morning.”
How can you prevent a hangover? Your drink of choice makes a huge difference, so opt for light alcohol over dark alcohol, which has a headache-causing substance called congeners.
Some people can end up drinking whatever they want, chug a glass of water before they go to bed and wake up the next morning ready to eat without feeling nauseated. Others do not have such luck. Not everything you hear about drinking can be taken at face value.
The next time you hear the saying “Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear,” think twice, and know your limits.
Ashley Huber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.