When you’re having fun, it’s easy to over-indulge. Whether you lost count of the beers you had about three rounds in or just had one drink too many for safety, now you’re faced with the prospect of getting home and you need to sober up.
Is there a way to speed up the process? If you listen to the conventional wisdom, there are all kinds of tricks you can try – but conventional wisdom isn’t actually very wise. These are some of the most popular misconceptions about how to sober up faster.
One of the most common myths is that a cup of strong coffee can sober you up – but caffeine will just make you feel more awake. It doesn’t lower your blood alcohol content. Worse, that sudden sense of alertness can even trick you into believing you’re more sober than you are, and that can easily lead to drunk driving charges.
The idea behind this one is that the cold water will be a shock to your system, triggering an internal response that will help you get sober. Just like the trick with coffee, however, this is just another way to make you feel more alert. It won’t actually affect the alcohol that’s in your system.
A brisk walk (maybe in the cold, for extra effect) is also supposed to help sober you up, with the idea being that you’ll “burn off” the alcohol a bit faster. While a walk might help you eliminate a few of the calories you just ingested, calories have nothing to do with blood alcohol content levels.
Chugging a few glasses of water can help with the dehydration that comes along with drinking too much, but it won’t “flush” the alcohol from your system any faster. (Too much water can even make you sick.) The alcohol in your system is largely metabolized through your liver, not your kidneys.
In reality, allowing time to pass is the only surefire way to sober up. While metabolisms can vary, your blood alcohol content (BAC) will only decline at about 0.015% per hour, so your best option is simply to call for a ride or settle in where you are until time cures the problem.
With that said, if you’ve made a mistake and trusted one of these urban legends about how to sober up faster, the wisest thing you can do is to invoke your rights and seek legal guidance right away.