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Does caffeine promote sobriety?

Contrary to popular thought, coffee and other caffeinated beverages, such as energy drinks, do not make a person sober after a night of drinking alcohol.

Alcohol, even in modest amounts, is known to decrease alertness, attention, and reaction times, all very important for driving ability. Yet caffeine can have the opposite effect--increasing performance and alertness.

These two ideas are what give many people the idea that caffeine speed sobriety after we drink copious amounts of alcohol. Some evidence does suggest that caffeinated drinks can reverse some of the effects of alcohol consumption but only in people who have ingested small amounts and whose alcohol blood levels are in the legal range. In reality, there is no evidence that caffeine can make people coherent and sober if they are intoxicated.

Caffeine does not counteract the impaired driving performance that alcohol beverages bring about, not does it neutralize the effects of alcohol in relation to driving safety, namely impaired judgment and increased risk taking.

Some studies indicate that caffeinated drinks can make intoxicated people perceive themselves as more sober after consuming alcohol. This means that they can feel less intoxicated. However, the detriments of alcohol are not reversed; people are still at risk if they think they are sober enough to drive.

As for sedatives or antianxiety medications, caffeine may counteract some of the negative effects of these drugs, as it does with alcohol. People taking these drugs should talk to their doctors about caffeinated drinks, which may actually impair the effectiveness of sedatives.

(Source: Nutrition Journal, 2008.)

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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Dec 22, 2010
Words:256
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