How to Reduce the Effects of Alcohol

By Denise Kelly

A night out at the bar or over a long, leisurely dinner with friends often includes alcohol. While some nights you might let it all hang out, sometimes you want to take it easy - perhaps you have an early meeting or you need to stay fairly sober to read the kids their bedtime story. While there is no magic pill to keep you from getting drunk, a few precautions will reduce the effects of alcohol.

Eat something. Food in the stomach and the small intestine - where alcohol enters the bloodstream - helps slow its absorption, weakening its effect. The British Broadcasting Corporation reports that some research finds that fatty and rich foods in particular slow down the process, making it easier for your body to deal with the alcohol.

Watch the clock. A general rule of thumb is that your body can easily process one drink per hour, at least for the first four hours. If you don't get ahead of that rate, you won't get drunk.

Drink beverages with low or high alcohol contents. The body most readily absorbs alcohol from drinks that are 10 to 30 percent alcohol by volume. Your digestive tract takes its time with rates below 10 percent, such as what is found in most beers. Higher rates, above 30 percent, irritate your gastrointestinal tract, so it produces more mucus. This slows absorption.

Prepare for the evening by being well-rested. If you are tired, your liver is more sluggish at processing alcohol, which means you will have a higher blood-alcohol content. Being tired also magnifies alcohol's effect as a depressant.

Smoke. Certainly this is terrible advice from a health point of view, but the BBC has reported on research showing that nicotine can keep alcohol from making its way to your intestines, the main site of absorption into the bloodstream.

Drink lots of water or other nonalcoholic beverages throughout the evening. This will help you slow down your consumption of alcohol, both by filling you up so you drink less, and by slowing the rate at which you drink. In addition, have a glass or two of water before you go to bed. It won't affect your condition right then, but it can alleviate the dehydration that comes with drinking - and results in that dreaded alcohol effect, a hangover.

Warnings

Caffeine has no bearing on how you are affected by alcohol. It might make you feel perkier, countering alcohol's depressant effect, but you will still be drunk. If you are drinking, designate a driver. Even if you take all the precautions available, you will still have alcohol in your system, and it will still affect your reaction time and abilities.

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