Whether it’s after work on a Friday or a party-hard situation on a Saturday night, you need to look no further than the packed bars and clubs to see that New Zealanders love to have a drink…or two.
Figures show that young people are most likely to have hazardous drinking patterns with 16.2 per cent of 15 to 24-year-olds saying they were drunk at least once a week. That’s compared to just 7.6 per cent of 34 to 44-year-olds.
With so many Kiwis getting tanked, it’s time to bust some common alcohol myths.
Myth 1: I am a party-lass and I can keep up with all the lads.
Unfortunately, you will probably get more wasted than the lads. Women’s bodies have a higher ratio of fat to water than men (hello curves). This means women’s bodies are less able to dilute alcohol so have a higher concentration of alcohol in their blood even when matching drinks with men.
Myth 2: Lining my stomach with carbs is best pre-drinking. Bring on the bread!
Actually, protein rich foods - like dairy, eggs and meat - are the best thing to eat because they slowly release energy which means they help your body absorb the alcohol all night. It is also important to note that food will not stop you getting drunk. It will, however, slow down the rate at which your body absorbs alcohol.
Myth 3: I have woken up hungover. I will just keep drinking because hair of the dog is the best hangover cure!
Wrong. While there are a lot of contested views around this, there are no clinically proven cures for a hangover. It is thought that drinking when you’re hungover masks the symptoms, meaning you will feel just as bad in a few hours. The only thing that will help you is time and H20, so get rehydrating! Matching every drink you have with water is also a good idea.
Myth 4: I’ve woken up still drunk and I have to go to work. A cold shower and a coffee will sober me up.
Sorry, but it won’t. Your liver can only process one standard drink an hour. If you had 330ml 12 pack of Heinekens last night that is around 15.6 standard drink - you do the math. Sobering up takes time. This also means you should not drive the next morning as it is likely you could still be well over the limit.
Myth 5: Me and my friends go out every weekend drinking and try to pull. Alcohol is the perfect partner in crime to give me the confidence I need.
You should leave your bottled friend at home. Alcohol can cause impotence and in the long term, it can cause a loss of sex drive, wasting of the testicles and reduced fertility. In women heavy alcohol use can lead to reduced fertility and can cause havoc with menstrual cycles. Being drunk also increases the chances of unsafe sex and having sex that is regretted or non-consensual.
Myth 6: I feel like there are 10 hammers pounding in my head, I’ll just take some Panadol and I’ll feel better.
Step away from the paracetamol. You may think you are being proactive and smart, but paracetamol can be a toxin to the liver during a hangover. Antacids can be useful though.
Myth 7: I was breaking the law by drinking at house parties when I was 15.
You are not as badass as you think. New Zealand has no minimum legal drinking age - it is only illegal if you were purchasing alcohol before you were 18. Having said that, drinking young isn’t the smartest idea for your developing brain. The brain isn’t fully developed until about age 25 and alcohol can harm its development.
Myth 8: So, my parents were providing me the alcohol when I was 15, this makes them lawbreakers.
Nope, they weren’t breaking the law, but a parent or guardian is the only person able to give permission for alcohol to be served to their kid if they’re under 18. So if you’re at a friend’s place and they offer you alcohol, they have to get your parents’ permission first. But aside from the law, if parents are hell-bent on giving alcohol to their teens, they need to think about how to minimise the negative effects: making sure the drinks are lower in alcohol, pacing drinking with plenty of water, and making protein-rich food and a safe environment available at all times is a good start.
Myth 9: I’m a twenty-something yo-pro now so I can handle my alcohol better then when I was a first-year hooligan.
Not necessarily. As you get older your alcohol tolerance is affected. Older bodies struggle to break down alcohol as effectively, meaning it takes less alcohol to become drunk.
Myth 10: I’ll just stick to vodka so that I don’t get a nasty hangover.
You’re kidding yourself if you think you can avoid a hangover by drinking one type of alcohol instead of another. When it hits your liver via your blood, it doesn’t make any difference whether it's wine or whiskey - your liver recognises it as alcohol. From your liver’s perspective, the issue is all about how much alcohol it has to deal with. The more alcohol you drink, the harder it becomes for your liver to keep up and the alcohol starts going to other parts of your body that aren’t designed to cope with it. Why else does it start to come out your pores? Get used to using the standard drink information on the bottle of whatever you’re drinking. That’ll tell you how much alcohol it has and remember, it takes your body an hour to process each standard drink. Get to know how much a standard drink is - it’s way less than you think, and it’s way less than most bars pour.
This information was provided by Cheers.org. Further information can be found on alcohol.org.nz. If you think you have a drinking problem or are concerned about your friends, contact the Alcohol Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797 or visit their website.