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What Are 5 Facts About Alcohol? Explained (2022 Updated)

Last Updated on August 10, 2022 by Lydia Martin

The oldest traces of alcohol dates back to 7,000 BC, but many scholars believe that alcoholic beverages may be older than humanity itself.

Since then, many myths started going around about how alcohol affects the human body and when did we start consuming it.

But what are the five facts about alcohol, and what are the wrong beliefs we have about these alcoholic beverages?

Top 5 Interesting Alcohol Facts

Top 5 Interesting Alcohol Facts

1. Alcohol-attributable Death is the 3rd Leading Preventable Cause of Death in The US

Alcohol-attributable Death

  • In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, there were 99,017 alcohol-related deaths in the United States, making up 3% of all deaths in the country [1].
  • According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, it was 25.5% more than the recorded count in 2019 of 78,927 deaths.
  • The largest increase in the death counts was among women and people aged from 35 to 44 years old.
  • These deaths include alcohol-associated heart disease, stroke, hypertension, breast cancer, liver cancer, alcohol use disorder (AUD), and motor vehicle crashes.

2. Cocktail Mixers Can Get You Drunk Faster

Cocktail Mixers on desk

  • Research in Northern Kentucky University indicates that mixing a diet soda with an alcoholic beverage will increase the breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) faster than a regular soda [2].
  • Based on this study, the participants who drank an alcoholic beverage with a regular soda had an average of 0.77 grams per 210 liters. But those who had a diet soda produced 0.91 grams of BrAC.

One explanation for this result is the sugar content of regular sodas. If you take an alcoholic beverage with a regular soda, the body recognizes it as food and slows down the absorption rate.

3. Early Americans Drank More Alcohol Than Water

Early Americans

  • In 1770, records showed that an average American consumed about 3.5 gallons of pure alcohol per year.
  • It is considerably higher than the recorded 2.35 gallons of ethanol per capita in 2018.
  • During this time, Americans of all ages, including toddlers, consumed alcohol. 
  • Even the US Army soldiers had a daily four ounces of whiskey ration since 1782. Sellers sold whiskey for 25 cents per gallon in the 1820s, and in 1830, the recorded ethanol per capita consumption reached 7 gallons [3].

This staggering record eventually led to the Prohibition Era during the 20th century.

4. Globally Speaking, the Minimum Drinking Age is 13 to 25 Years Old

Globally Speaking, the Minimum Drinking Age is 13 to 25 Years Old

  • Burkina Faso in West Africa has the youngest minimum legal drinking age of 13 years old, while Eritrea in East Africa has the oldest at 25 years old.
  • Most countries, or more than 60%, have a minimum legal drinking age of 18.
  • The United States, along with Oman, Solomon Islands, Samoa, and other countries, have a minimum legal drinking age of 21 years old.

Setting a higher minimum drinking age is important to help brain development associated with addiction, motivation, and impulsivity during adolescence. But what percentage of US citizens drink alcohol?

5. Alcohol Can Be As Old As Civilization

  • According to research, alcohol is not only as old as civilization, but it also played an important role in developing human culture and biology from the very beginning.
  • Some accounts showed that alcohol helped the survival of early homo sapiens in the absence of purified water or clean food [4].
  • The oldest chemical residue of alcoholic beverages was found in an archaeological site in Jiahu, China.
  • The analyses confirmed the traces of a mixed fermented drink made of honey, hawthorn fruit, and rice that dates back to around 7,000 BC.

Some Alcohol Myths

Some Alcohol Myths

Hard Liquor Gets Your Drunk More Than Wine

Some people believe the higher alcohol content of hard liquor will get you drunker than wine, but it is not true. All standard drink levels have the same alcohol content of 14 grams or 0.6 fluid ounces.

Wine usually has 12% ABV with a standard drink of 5 ounces, while hard liquor with usually 40% ABV is limited to 1.5 ounces. 

These alcoholic beverages have the same active ingredient, and you will only get more drunk depending on your consumed volume. But how can you drink alcohol without tasting it?

Coffee Can Sober You Up Quickly

Coffee Can Sober You Up Quickly

One of the most common myths is to drink coffee to lower the alcohol level in the body before going out to drive.

However, coffee makes you feel awake and more alert, but it is because of its function as a stimulant. It can not sober you up or help for a faster alcohol process in your body.

The human body processes alcohol differently, but pacing your drink to give time for your body to metabolize the alcohol will help you get drunk slower.

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Alcohol Warms You Up

Ironically, alcohol makes you colder, not warmer.

Alcoholic beverages will initially cause warm feelings, leading many of us to believe they can warm our bodies during a cold season.

But this warmth is only because of the dilation of your blood vessels.

The dilation makes it hard for your body to constrict your blood vessels and keep you warm.

You will start sweating immediately, and the alcohol will impair your body’s shivering capability, further lowering your temperature.

Hangovers Are Caused By Mixing Drinks

Hangovers Are Caused By Mixing Drinks

Many people who woke up dehydrated, sick, and with severe headaches blamed the mixed alcoholic drinks they took the night before for these hangover symptoms.

But ethanol and congeners are among the main reasons for hangovers and not mixing drinks.

However, mixing drinks is still not a good idea because you might lose track of how many standard drinks you’ve had.

It can increase your alcohol intake to more than the suggested drink per hour.

FAQs

What can alcohol do to your body?

Alcohol can cause diarrhea and headache in your body. The first couple of drinks can change your mood, make you feel more relaxed, lower your inhibitions or give you a feeling of euphoria.

After a few hours, you may start feeling dehydrated, have slurred speech, lose coordination, have trouble focusing, have impulsive behavior, or blackouts.

Can alcohol make you happy?

Yes, alcohol can make you happy because it is a psychoactive substance. The human body starts producing more dopamine, or what most people call the happy hormone, once we drink alcoholic beverages.

But this happy feeling only lasts for a short time as the unpleasant effects of alcohol will start to settle down. 

In Summary

So, what are the five facts about alcohol? Alcohol misuse is one of the leading preventable causes of death, next to tobacco and lack of a healthy lifestyle.

The minimum legal alcohol drinking age worldwide ranges from 13 to 25. 

Alcoholic beverages are old enough to help shape human civilization. Early Americans consumed more alcohol, with some of the Founding Fathers having insane drinking stories. 

References:

  1. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2790491
  2. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/pick-your-poison-a-diet-mixer-could-make-you-get-drunk-faster-12071641/
  3. https://www.pastemagazine.com/drink/alcohol-history/the-1800s-when-americans-drank-whiskey-like-it-was/#comparing-drinking-rates-1830-vs-2018
  4. https://www.cato.org/commentary/alcohol-caffeine-created-civilization

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