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Alcohol truths: Breaking bottles, myths

By James Steinbauer
On March 7, 2014

With warm spring weather, St. Patrick's Day and its collegiate cousin, Green Beer Day, fast-approaching, scores of students will be making their way Uptown to bask in the sun and celebrate in the bars.

Whether their goal is to avert a hangover, limit calorie intake, or throw caution to the warm spring breeze for an all-out rager, many students follow a set of longstanding guidelines to get through a night (or day) of drinking with limited consequences.

One of the myths most commonly respected by students and adults alike is the age-old proverb "beer before liquor, never sicker." In a poll of 50 Miami students, six out of every 10 believe this myth to be true.

However, research shows "sickness" does not depend on the order in which people enjoy their drinks, but the total amount of alcohol consumed. No matter the order in which you arrange your drinks, you'll still end up with your head in the toilet if you over indulge.

Another myth students especially tend to put stock in is the belief that coffee will help cure a hangover. Conversely, students may want to avoid their Sunday morning Starbucks because the dehydrating caffeine in coffee will make a hangover worse.

"Coffee is a stimulant and some students seem to think that stimulants help, but they don't," Assistant Director of Health Education Leslie Haxby McNeill said. "The best cure for a hangover is not to get one."

Even students who don't like to drink coffee have methods they believe will help them avoid a hangover the morning following a night of heavy drinking. For some, nothing works better at curing a hangover than a big greasy sandwich from Bagel & Deli before bed.

"There are so many choices of delicious foods for someone to eat after drinking," junior Spencer Kerivan said. "For me I'd have to go with subs, and pizza and quesadillas delivered from Johnny's."

Although some Miami students, five out of every 10, believe a delicious and fatty nosh before bed will help prevent a hangover the next morning greasy food will actually mix with alcohol, contribute to acid reflux and make the inevitable hangover even worse.

All that fattening food may be the culprit behind another alcohol related myth-the "beer belly."

While nearly eight out of every 10 Miami students believe that beer and alcohol will give you a "beer belly," that massive mound many uncles insist on calling their "one pack" has little to do with beer consumption.

"Alcohol has a ton of calories," McNeill said. "However, any amount of excess calories will lead to weight gain."

An additional means of besting the dreaded hangover includes the belief that older and finer wines are better at preventing a hangover than newer, cheaper wines.

"Alcohol is alcohol," professor of viticulture and enology Jack Keegan said. "If you have an older wine that is 15 percent alcohol, it is going to have more of an intoxicating effect than wine 12 percent alcohol."

Keegan also alluded to the fact that some wines are meant to be aged for decades while others are meant to be drunk within a year.

Sadly, saving your Flip-Flop Cabernet for that special moment will most likely make it taste worse and make you sick.

"Putting stock in these myths is basically hoping you can get away with being stupid," graduate Resident Advisor Nathan Toft said. "The only things that are going to prevent or help you avoid hangovers are moderation and time."

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