If you’ve drunk too much, there is no quick-fix to sobering-up. Strong coffee, a cold shower, two fingers down the throat, sweating it out, a ‘lamb sandwich’… none of these work. That’s because your body reacts to alcohol in the bloodstream – the BAC, blood alcohol concentration – and none of these methods have any effect in clearing alcohol from the blood.
That’s the job of your liver – the body’s ‘detoxifier’. And the liver processes alcohol at a fixed rate – in other words, it takes time, and there is little or nothing you can do to speed it up.
In a normal healthy person, the liver can get rid of about one standard drink per hour. So while you may feel a little more clear-headed after a run, a cold shower, or ‘a good vomit’, you won’t have removed alcohol from the bloodstream any faster than if you’d simply sat in a chair (and talked to the cat).
Even drinking a litre or so of water before bed won’t make you any less drunk and won’t protect you from the damage of alcohol (but it may reduce the hangover the next day by preventing dehydration). And because the liver works at a fixed rate, if you’ve had a big night, you may not be safe to drive or work the next day.
The only reliable method to sobering-up is to stay alert to how much you are drinking, and to know when to stop.
Our tips to help you ‘stay safe and be well’ and manage your drinking:
- Eat before drinking, or only drink with a meal
- If you’re thirsty, before ‘cracking a beer’ drink water or something non-alcoholic first
- Keep track of how much you’re drinking; don’t let friends or wait-staff ‘top-up’ your drink
- Alternate your drinks between full-strength and low-alcohol alternatives
- Avoid getting into rounds and shouts where there is pressure to drink faster than you would normally
- Keep control, be assertive – don’t be pressured into drinking more than you want to.
REMEMBER, FOR GOOD HEALTH, FOR BOTH MEN AND WOMEN, TAKE NO MORE THAN TWO STANDARD DRINKS ON ANY DAY, AND NO MORE THAN FOUR STANDARD DRINKS IN A SINGLE SESSION.
(This content from ‘A Handbook Of Alcohol, Drugs And Workplace Risk’ (page 20), published by ADA Australia 2017.)