Alcohol Facts
Share on Share on Share on


Alcohol Facts
Accurate alcohol facts are necessary for the public to get a true picture of what role alcohol plays in public health. The following alcohol facts are based upon scientific research and the cumulative knowledge of trained professionals in addiction science.
  • Alcohol Myths: Alcohol destroys brain cells.
  • Alcohol Facts: The moderate consumption of alcohol does not destroy brain cells.
  • Alcohol Myths: White wine is a good choice for a person who wants a light drink with less alcohol.
  • Alcohol Facts: 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.
  • Alcohol Myths: Switching between beer, wine, and spirits will lead to intoxication more quickly than sticking to one type of alcohol beverage.
  • Alcohol Facts: The level of blood alcohol content (BAC) is what determines sobriety or intoxication. Remember that a standard drink of beer, wine, or spirits contain equivalent amounts of alcohol. Alcohol is alcohol and a drink is a drink.
  • Alcohol Myths: Drinking coffee will help a drunk person to sober up.
  • Alcohol Facts: 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 a 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.
  • Alcohol Myths: Drinking long enough will cause a person to become an alcoholic.
  • Alcohol Facts: There is simply no scientific basis for this misperception, which appears to have its origin in temperance and prohibitionist ideology.
  • Alcohol Myths: Drinking alcohol causes weight gain.
  • Alcohol Facts: This is a very commonly believed myth, even among medical professionals, because alcohol has caloric value. However, extensive research around the world has found alcohol consumption does not cause weight gain in men and is often associated with a small weight loss in women.
  • Alcohol Myths: Alcohol stunts the growth of children and retards their development.
  • Alcohol Facts: Scientific medical research does not support this old temperance scare tactic promoted by the Women's Christian Temperance Union, the Anti-Saloon League, the Prohibition Party, and similar groups.
  • Alcohol Myths: Binge drinking is an epidemic problem on college campuses.
  • Alcohol Facts: 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.
  • Alcohol Myths: Men and women of the same height and weight can drink the same.
  • Alcohol Facts: Women are affected more rapidly because they tend to have a slightly higher proportion of fat to lean muscle tissue, thus concentrating alcohol a little more easily in their lower percentage of body water. They also have less of an enzyme (dehydrogenase) that metabolizes or breaks down alcohol, and hormonal changes during their menstrual cycle might also affect alcohol absorption to some degree.
  • Alcohol Myths: A single sip of alcohol by a pregnant woman can cause her child to have fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).
  • Alcohol Facts: Extensive medical research studying hundreds of thousands of women from around the world fails to find scientific evidence that light drinking, much less a sip of alcohol by an expectant mother, can cause fetal alcohol syndrome. Of course, the very safest choice would be to abstain during the period of gestation.
  • Alcohol Myths: People who abstain from alcohol are "alcohol-free."
  • Alcohol Facts: Every person produces alcohol normally in the body 24 hours each and every day from birth
  • until death. Therefore, we always have alcohol in our bodies.
  • Alcohol Myths: Alcohol abuse is an increasing problem among young people.
  • Alcohol Facts: 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.
  • Alcohol Myths: People in the US are generally heavy consumers of alcohol.
  • Alcohol Facts: The US isn't even among the top ten alcohol consuming countries. Top 10 Alcohol Consuming Countries on per capita Basis Country / Consumption in Gallons of absolute or pure alcohol: At a consumption rate of only 1.74 per person, the US falls far down at 32nd on the list.
  • Alcohol Myths: The US has very lenient underage drinking laws.
  • Alcohol Facts: The US has the strictest youth drinking laws in the Western world, including the highest minimum drinking age in the entire world. This is buttressed by a public policy of Zero Tolerance.
  • Alcohol Myths: Alcohol advertising increases drinking problems.
  • Alcohol Facts: 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.
  • Alcohol Myths: People who can "hold their liquor" are to be envied.
  • Alcohol Facts: People who can drink heavily without becoming intoxicated have probably developed a tolerance for alcohol, which can indicate the onset of dependency.
  • Alcohol Myths: Many lives would be saved if everyone abstained from alcohol.
  • Alcohol Facts: Some lives would be saved from accidents now caused by intoxication and from health problems caused by alcohol abuse. However, many other lives would be lost from increases in coronary heart disease. For example, estimates from 13 studies suggest that as many as 135,884 additional deaths would occur each year in the US from coronary heart disease alone because of abstinence.
  • Alcohol Myths: Drunkenness and alcoholism are the same thing.
  • Alcohol Facts: Many non-alcoholics on occasion become intoxicated or drunk. However, if they are not addicted to alcohol, they are not an 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.
  • Alcohol Myths: Alcohol is the cause of alcoholism.
  • Alcohol Facts: 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. 
  • Alcohol Myths: If alcohol were less available there would be fewer alcoholics.
  • Alcohol Facts: This is an idea that has been tested through prohibition in the US and a number of other countries. There is no association between the availability of alcohol and alcoholism.
  • Alcohol Myths: College life leads to drinking by most students who enter as abstainers.
  • Alcohol Facts: According to Federal statistics, most students arrive at college with prior drinking experience and the proportion of drinkers doesn't increase greatly during college.
  • Alcohol Myths: Although not totally incorrect, but certainly not the whole truth, is the assertion that the younger children are when they have their first drink the more likely they are to experience drinking problems.
  • Alcohol Facts: Generally speaking, people who on their own begin drinking either much earlier or much later than their peers begin are more likely to experience subsequent drinking problems. This appears to result from the fact that either behavior tends to reflect a tendency to be deviant. Therefore, delaying the age of first drink would not influence the incidence of drinking problems because it would not change the underlying predisposition to be deviant and to experience drinking problems. And, of course, children who are taught moderation by their parents are less likely to abuse alcohol or have drinking problems.

Alcohol Facts
Drug of Choice:
Looking for Treatment?:
Describe the situation: