Alcohol impairment persists till the morning after

January 13, 2010 by  
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Partying, feasting, drinking. That was what most of us did on New Year’s Eve. Then we crashed into bed in the wee hours of the morning and slept through most of New Year’s Day. So how did you feel the morning after? Some of us may have suffered from mild to severe hang over. Some of us may just feel fine and dandy. But the question is, are really fit enough to get on with our daily routine?

Well, researchers at Brown University have this question in mind when they conducted their study. The study participants consisted of 95 healthy people aged 21 to 33 who were nevertheless heavy drinkers. The participants got legally drunk for a night (legally drunk = 0.080 percent Blood Alcohol Concentration all states in America) and then had 8 hours of sleep. The following morning, the sober participants were tested on how well they cna make quick decisions and pay attention.

The study results showed that even after hours of rest, with blood alcohol level at zero, the participants still exhibited some degree of postdrinking impairment. This impairment can affect the ability to drive a vehicle, operate complex machinery, or make critical decisions.

According to researcher Damaris Rohsenow, professor of Community Health at Brown University:

“Don’t consider driving the morning after the night before. If a person is going to get drunk, they should be doing it on a night when they are not going to be needing to drive the next morning.”

There are misconceptions about the duration of the effects of alcohol.  Many people think that alcohol can easily be “slept off”. Others believe a strong cup of coffee would easily do the trick. However, alcohol’s effects persist long after the last drink has been downed. Alcohol in the stomach and intestine will continue to enter the blood stream. Once in the blood, the alcohol circulates throughout the body and into the brain.  Alcohol easily penetrates the so-called blood-brain barrier and once in the brain, it stays there for a while and cause impairment.

What about the effect of caffeine?

Does coffee really sober you up?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Caffeine may help with drowsiness, but it doesn’t counteract the effect of alcohol on decision-making or coordination. The body needs time to metabolize (break down) alcohol and even more time to return to normal. There are no quick cures—only time will help.”

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