Monday, December 3, 2007
Why Caffeine Won’t Sober Up An Alcoholic
Excessive alcohol consumption poses a risk to ones health. Discover how caffeine has no effect on recovery.
It is not uncommon for someone who spent the evening drinking heavily to settle for a cup of coffee in an attempt to sober up. This is based on folk belief that the stimulating effects of caffeine will counteract the lethargic and drowsy effects of alcohol. Alcohol and caffeine have opposite effects on the central nervous system - while alcohol is depressant, caffeine is a stimulant. While the understanding of the effect alcohol and caffeine have on the body is correct, the belief that one cancels out the effect of the other and that an interaction of the two is beneficial is incorrect and misguided.
Drinking caffeine after a night out will not help someone sober up. Sobering up requires the lowering of the level of alcohol in one’s blood stream. Caffeine and other substances cannot lower blood alcohol level, what they do is make the person feel more alert. In order for the alcohol to leave the blood stream, it either has to work its way out through absorption or excretion. Thus, with caffeine and alcohol in the blood stream, the person will be more alert but still be impaired and not have gained control over coordination or psychomotor activity. The alertness that caffeine provides can make people feel like they have sobered up and give them the incentive to do certain things they should not do when drunk. For example, this false sense of alertness and wakefulness will make someone feel that they are sober enough to drive.
Caffeine, on its own, has bad effects on people with certain diseases, such as diabetes and heart conditions. Those with heart conditions should be especially careful when mixing caffeine and alcohol. Both caffeine and alcohol increase heart rate and when taken together, the effect is greater than either one taken alone. Cardiac arrhythmia, meaning irregular heart beats, can result and for people with damaged or weak hearts, the effects can be extremely dangerous.
Various studies have examined the relationship between alcohol and caffeine and found that caffeine does not help a drunk person become sober.
A study in Finland had volunteers drink coffee after becoming drunk. The volunteers were then tested on various motor skills and observed to see if their personality changes. No significant changes were found and they concluded that caffeine and alcohol do not cancel out or enhance each other’s effect. A second study repeated the tests conducted in Finland and corroborated the findings of the Finnish study. This study used volunteers in the United States and tested the manual dexterity, reasoning, reaction times and verbal fluency of volunteers who first ingested alcohol and then caffeine.
Another study tested intoxicated mice. Once intoxicated, the mice were given caffeine and it was found that alcohol and caffeine aletered the metabolism of brain catecholamines but that caffeine does not reverse the effects of alcohol.
Another study found that while caffeine does not alter the effects of alcohol on the body, the presence of both substances in the body makes it difficult to eliminate caffeine. It appears that the substances interact to affect the absorption and metabolism functions of the body, leading to higher levels of caffeine in the blood stream and by default, long lasting effects of caffeine on the central nervous system.
None of the scientific studies found that caffeine reverses the effects of alcohol. Instead, the interaction of the two simply serves to slightly alter the way the body carries out certain activities.
For more information visit www.Truthaboutcaffeine.com or www.CaffeineAnonymous.org