Does staying hydrated while drinking reduce your BAC?
While being hydrated is really important while drinking, Dr Benson says skolling a bottle of water before a big day will have no bearing on your BAC. “BAC comes down to how much alcohol you’re drinking,” she says. “Being hydrated might help with the hangover, but it won’t change your BAC.”
Is there anything you can do to reduce BAC?
Urban legend has it that there are hacks you can use to reduce your blood alcohol concentration. But, Dr Benson warns, none of it works. “Once alcohol is in the bloodstream, there is nothing you can do to lower it. You just have to wait it out. Some drugs might change your subjective feeling of intoxication, but nothing will change your actual BAC.”
How do breathalysers work?
Breathalysers are not measuring the alcohol in your mouth, Dr Benson clarifies, they’re measuring the alcohol that is on your breath when you exhale from the lungs. This is why a breathalyser can’t be used accurately on someone within 15 to 20 minutes of them having finished a drink, as there will still be residual alcohol in the mouth.
Can people manipulate a breathalyser into giving a lower reading?
Despite popular belief, when time comes to blow into the breathalyser there’s nothing you can do to mask your reading. When alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream, Dr Benson explains, it goes through to the lungs, so you’re exhaling a bit of alcohol as well.
“There are so many stories I have heard of people trying to use tactics to trick the breathalyser,” she laughs. “Some people talk about using mouthwash, stuffing their mouths with cotton balls, breathing through the nose and exhaling through the mouth – not sure how this one is meant to work as the breath is still coming from your lungs – and even eating foods to mask the smell of alcohol in the mouth. But the reality is, the only way to get a lower BAC reading is to drink less alcohol.”
Can people be allergic to alcohol?
When it comes to alcohol, genetic variations play a big role in how people react to it. “Some people can have different activity of the alcohol and aldehyde dehydrogenase response,” Dr Benson explains. “That’s why you will sometimes see facial flushing, when [someone] doesn’t have the same [gene] processes to be able to metabolise the alcohol. This can also mean they reach a higher state of intoxication, quicker.”
Why shouldn’t you drink if you’re on antibiotics?
The reason doctors tell you to avoid alcohol if you’re taking medication – particularly prescription medication – is because the alcohol may interfere with the medication’s effectiveness, induce adverse symptoms or the medication may enhance the effects of the alcohol. Drinking alcohol while taking antidepressants, for example, can make you feel sick and exacerbate feelings of intoxication.
But when it comes to most antibiotics, Dr Benson says, avoiding alcohol was advised for different reasons. “When antibiotics were first designed, they were used to treat STIs,” she explains. “So it’s been speculated that they told people not to drink because they didn’t want people to have sex and either pass on an STI or make their own worse.”
If you’re taking any medication, Dr Benson says to always consult your doctor before drinking.
What effect does even one drink have on your neurocognition?
When it comes to the effects of alcohol, impairment is directly related to the level of intoxication.
“At very low BACs, say one or two drinks, most people will actually appear normal,” Dr Benson says. “There are very subtle side effects, but they can be hard to pick up on. Once someone is between 0.05-0.1, they may have blunted feelings or feel more disinhibited. They will also experience some level of cognitive impairment. They might have trouble with their psychomotor skills, have delayed reaction times, impaired reflexes, slurred speech, among other things. A BAC reading above 0.4-0.5 can be deadly. "
If you're woried you might be over the limit (and, sometimes, even if you're not), the best option is to play it safe and not get behind the wheel.