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Only Time Will Sober You Up

Being pulled over - Copyright: Elliot Burlingham

Ways to Sober Up Quickly

You drank some alcohol at a party, even though you knew you shouldn’t have. After the party, you are thinking of driving home. So, you consider ways to sober up quickly.

One or two cups of coffee or any other source of caffeine perks you up. It is only logical that caffeine also sobers you up. A cold shower also makes you feel more alert, so that should help. Or a brisk walk around to block to fill your lungs with fresh air. It clears your brain. Not to mention a quick bite of some numbing and spicy food.

These remedies can surely make you feel more awake after drinking alcohol, but it won’t affect the amount of alcohol in your blood.

Worst of all, alcohol impairs your judgment. So, you may think you can drive just because you feel better, when really you can’t.

Read more: How Alcohol Affects Driving Ability

Another Classic Mistake

Another classic mistake is trying to calculate the blood alcohol content (BAC) from the number of drinks you had since you started drinking and the number of hours you spent drinking. If the body gets rid of one standard drink per hour, your BAC should be zero if you give the body three hours to get rid of three drinks.

Read more: What is a Standard Drink?

This will put you under the legal limit, but it doesn’t make you a safe driver. Remember, when you drink alcohol, your judgment is clouded. Getting the numbers straight can be tricky. Maybe you drank more than you think you did.

Your body will also react to the alcohol metabolism. The amount of alcohol in your blood is perhaps not the only thing that makes you an unsafe driver.

Alcohol is also a depressant, you are likely to feel tired after drinking.

The liver - Copyright : Naveen Kalwa

Why Time is the Key

The only thing that will truly sober you up is time. And, by the way, they love this question on DMV tests around the country. For one thing, DMV officials want to kill the myth that multivitamins and other hangover cures sobers you up. They also want you to truly understand that drinking has consequences that you must deal with by not driving.

It doesn’t matter how much alcohol you drink; your body can only get rid of the alcohol at a certain rate. That rate varies among individuals and depends on several factors. It takes about 45 – 60 minutes to get rid of one standard drink. Most of this slow process takes place in the liver.

The liver eliminates alcohol in separate steps. Enzymes help to break apart the alcohol into something that the body can get rid of more easily. During this process, the body forms other toxic compounds, which can have harmful effects and cause what we call a hangover.

You cannot speed up the process. The liver works at a steady rate and metabolize about .015 percent alcohol per hour.

To sober up, you must simply wait until the liver finishes its job. Eventually, all alcohol will be eliminated from your body. But remember, it takes time!

When the liver is ready, you are technically sober. But you may not always feel so great and you are not always a safe driver.

Read more: Alcohol Metabolism

Dealing with Social Drinking Situations

Understanding what alcohol does to your body, your judgment, and you driving skills is important, not only for your written knowledge test.

If you know that you must drive after a social situation where they serve alcohol, you can hopefully make a better decision about whether to drink or not.

Understand how alcohol affects you - Party photo by Dolgachov

If you choose to drink, you can make safer decisions about drinking and how to get home. Ask if someone who is not drinking is willing to drive you home, or if public transport is available. Plan before you start drinking. Don’t change your mind after a few drinks. Stick with your original plan.

Knowing more about alcohol can also help you recognize the warning signs of dangerous intoxication and get help for a friend.

With knowledge, you are probably also more aware of other risks associated with alcohol, such as unwanted sex and being a victim of crime.

Don’t Drive Until You Sober Up

Man with hangover - Copyright: Katarzyna Bialasiewicz

After you drink alcohol, don’t drive. Not even after one drink. Give your body enough time to sober up and get rid of any aftermath.

Driving requires your full and undivided attention. Drowsy driving can be just as bad as drunk driving. Make sure you’ve had enough sleep after the party. The longer you stayed awake, the more your body needs to sleep.


Pulled over photo – Copyright: Elliot Burlingham

Party photo – Copyright: Dolgachov

Man with hangover – Copyright: Katarzyna Bialasiewicz

The liver – Copyright: Naveen Kalwa

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