College is a formative time for drinkers. Not only are these new 21-year-olds discovering what kinds of drinks they like and trying a variety of (often questionable) spirits and concoctions, but they’re also figuring out how to navigate a space that’s rife with binge drinking, horrible hangovers and, frankly, tons of misinformation about booze. Even after you’ve donned a cap and gown and gotten your first job, some of these myths about drinking persist. Here, five of the most dubious claims about drinking out there. Don’t fall for these boozed up fallacies again.
The Myth: Alcohol is a “liquid blanket,” so you won’t need a coat in freezing weather.
The Reality: While there may be something to calling a Whiskey Sour “liquid courage,” it’s not a liquid blanket—no matter how many you drink before stepping out into the snow in a minidress and heels (we may or may not be speaking from experience). As the Mayo Clinic’s Dr. David Raslau told Buzzfeed, a few drinks will make your skin feel warm thanks to dilated blood vessels. But that actually means your body is losing heat, not gaining it. So while it may be annoying to throw on a heavy coat and boots just to travel to a house party 10 minutes away, you’ll thank yourself later when you’re not stuck at home the following Friday night wheezing with pneumonia.
The Myth: Alcohol kills germs so it doesn’t matter if you drink from the same cup as someone who’s sick.
The Reality: Your sniffling, coughing friend hands you their drink. “Try it,” they say. “Don’t worry, the booze will kill the germs.” You hesitate, but your friend insists and you eventually give in. They’re probably right about the whole alcohol kills germs thing—right? Well, it depends. According to the CDC, ethyl alcohol levels of 60 to 90 percent are ideal for killing bacteria and whatever mucous-y germs you’re concerned about. But unless you’re shooting Everclear (which we don’t ever suggest doing), you’re probably not hitting those levels—not even close. So play it safe and tell your friend, “No, thanks.” Otherwise, you might end up with that nasty cough too.
The Myth: Coffee helps you sober up.
The Reality: If you’re a little loopy after having a few drinks and want to sober up, coffee might help wake you up a little—but it won’t lower your blood alcohol levels. Truth be told, it’s not a good idea to ever drink caffeine in conjunction with alcohol, as studies have shown. That’s because feeling more awake after drinking coffee gives people a false sense of sobriety. The only thing that will actually sober you up? A nice, long sleep that will give your body the time it needs to metabolize the alcohol in your system.
The Myth: “Beer before liquor, never been sicker. Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear.”
The Reality: This saying—though catchy—is complete malarkey. Though there are plenty of people who swear by these 12 words, every college student will eventually discover that the more important factors are quantity of alcohol consumed and the rate of succession—no matter if it’s beer, liquor, wine or anything else with an ABV.
The Myth: Some “hair of the dog” will cure your hangover.
The Reality: Instead of curing your hangover, a splash of the “hair of the dog that bit you” will simply prolong your buzz. You can keep trying to stave off that headache and general lousy feeling with more drinks, but all you’re doing in the end is delaying an inevitable hangover—and likely making it worse. If you want a hangover cure that will actually help your booze-ravaged body, the best way to go is a dose of Advil and a massive bottle of water. Sorry for bursting that Bloody Mary bubble.