Before you drink
December 31, 2001 1:54 AM   Subscribe

Before you drink and think of driving, you should know exactly how drunk you are allowed to be, depending on which US state you're in. The Blood Alcohol Educator (shockwave) will set you straight for a safe new year. Just put in some info about yourself, head off to the virtual bar to pick your drinks and how fast you'd like to slam them. You'll get stats on how legally drunk you are, tips on how to keep your BAC down, and nuggets of info about your current state. Here's to a safe new year.
posted by mathowie (20 comments total)
OK, here's my late attempt at longest comment of 2001:

I actually gave this test an extended try-out and it's quite sophisticated, though I was slightly suspicious about the amount of margaritas you can drink if you sip. But then I was slyly in Wyoming, where the limit is very generous.

The most important variables are, in decreasing order, time, then weight, then gender, then food. I.e. If you're a slow drinker, overweight, a man, and you eat a lot beforehand you can probably have a whole quart of whiskey during your night out - and still not reach your limit.

Here in Europe there's this wonderful drug, almost harmless, which a lot of savvy drivers take because it lowers your alcohol level quite dramatically in an hour or so. It's called Metadoxil - here's a Google-translated leaflet from their Italian manufacturers. It beats the breathalyser quite easily, unless you're truly loaded to begin with.

It's used in the U.S. for fatty livers, cirrhosis and other alcohol-related damage. Perhaps some intrepid member can dig up an available source - or at least a website in understandable English.

It sobers you up very quickly. Some stupid people hate taking it because of this effect. Say it's a waste of money. These are the drunk drivers, of course.

Finally, anti-hangover preparation - not the morning-after stuff, which is all rubbish - is also useful, as it's designed to make you compensate for what you're drinking while you're drinking.

There are quite a few hangover sites on the Web. Most are fun and full of folk remedies, like this one.

Still, my favourite is BUPA's, a British medical insurance company, because it sticks to the facts.

Main point: make alcohol absorption as difficult and slow as you can, by previously eating "blotter" food(mashed potatoes, full-fat milk), drinking a lot of water, using a lot of ice and drinking slowly. Also eat carbohydrates while you're drinking or work them into your drinks(juices).

This way you can really enjoy yourself and not regret it in the morning.

Well, not much if you also take some ibobrufen and two large glasses of water before going to sleep...

Have a great night tonight, everybody!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:47 AM on December 31, 2001

If you drink anything, don't drive. Don't trust yourself to know when you've had enough -- drinking is supposed to make you stupid. (Stupid enough to think your bar banter is witty and interesting even though sober you are boring and you know it. Stupid enough to attempt the dance you saw in a video last night even though sober you know you cannot do the generic slow whirling hug known universally as The Slow Dance. Stupid enough to end up in bed with the person in the corner even though sober you would think of several reasons ranging from diseases to aesthetics why you don't want those body parts anywhere near your body parts.)

If you have to go out and get shitty, take public transportation, get as stupid as you have to get, and go home the same way you got there (only stupider, smellier, and perhaps with a goatish stranger attached to you). Splurge on a taxi for once; try to convince your date you aren't cheap. Or don't go home; stay out, eat somewhere, wander around, watch the sun rise, watch the moon set, go home sober sometime the next day.

[Maybe cities should arrange for free New Year's Eve parking to anyone who is willing to take a breath test on the way out of the lot.]
posted by pracowity at 3:36 AM on December 31, 2001

Now the real info:

In Portugal experienced drinkers, before they go out, prepare:

a)The bathroom. A freshly laundered bathrobe and cool shower stuff(Neutrogena's Rain Bath is best). Showering before going to bed is essential.

b)The bedroom. Same idea: freshly laundered sheets, window open, everything real tidy and sexy. On your bedside table, a well laid-out tray with all the necessary provisions for the night: mints, ibobrufen(at least 600 mgs)and a big pitcher of room-temperature water.

c)The secret ingredient is a long-acting sleeping pill. Most hangovers are made much worse by lack of sleep. So it's paradoxically good to knock yourself out a bit. If you've had enough water and sleep in a clean and fresh environment, it's very difficult to be hungover after nine hours sleep.

d)Halcion is OK. Normison is better. But the best pill is Trazodone. Although it's an antidepressant it also provides a very pleasant sleeping experience. This, of course, should be a one-off. If you already take sleeping pills, don't take a double dose as the alcohol in your blood will boost the pill anyway.

e)Have a big, fatty breakfast - or better still, lunch - when you wake up. Avoid anything acid, like coffee or juices of any kind. Milk, eggs, sausages and potatoes are best.

That concludes today's hangover broadcast. :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:39 AM on December 31, 2001

Hey, Doc, if you're dispensing professional advice to strangers on the casual mixing of alcohol and sleeping pills, maybe you should at least steer people to the warnings, including this:

posted by pracowity at 3:58 AM on December 31, 2001

I hate people that drink and drive. That test seemed a little harsh, I died and I had only just got started.
posted by RobertLoch at 4:05 AM on December 31, 2001

If you drink anything, don't drive. Don't trust yourself to know when you've had enough -- drinking is supposed to make you stupid.

I don't think it's productive to exaggerate the truth here. On the simulation matthowie linked to, I drank six consecutive beers before I was even over the legal limit, and based on my considerable experience in bars, and getting home from them, I'd say that's pretty accurate.

Of course, if you don't know your limit, don't find out what it is from behind the wheel of a car. Nobody should drive drunk. But the truth is that many people are not intoxicated after one beer, and sweeping naive invectives against anyone drinking just a drop of alcohol and driving the same night are not going to change the right people's minds.
posted by bingo at 4:36 AM on December 31, 2001

Interesting little game, when I clicked the sleeping pill option after 12 martinis it flashed "CHOKE ON VOMIT".
posted by rotifer at 4:41 AM on December 31, 2001

Pracowity - you got that from my link. That's why I posted it. Of course people should read the warnings, Nurse. The incidence is less than 1%, as you can also see from the same link. Alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, Viagra and a lot of other antidepressants or blood-thickeners also carry the same risk of priapism.
Trazodone is actually one of the safest antidepressants, usually prescribed for older people and it has a very low abuse potential.
Plus we're talking about one pill, not a course of treatment. Anyway, if Trazodone were that priapic I'm sure they wouldn't have bothered inventing Viagra.
So don't get people's hopes up - no, folks, it doesn't make you horny! ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:57 AM on December 31, 2001

I don't think it's productive to exaggerate the truth here. On the simulation matthowie linked to, I drank six consecutive beers before I was even over the legal limit, and based on my considerable experience in bars, and getting home from them, I'd say that's pretty accurate.

You drank and you weren't at your limit, and you may make it home in that condition, but how were your reflexes? Your response time? Your sensory accuity?

My point, as repeated in numerous PSAs because it is very much the truth, is that impairment begins with the first drink and one need not be "drunk" or near the legal limit to be unsafe behind the wheel. If you are planning to drink -- tonight or any night -- then you should first make a plan for alternate transportation, be it public transport, taxis or a dependable designated driver. There is no reason why anyone who is intending to drink should also be intending to drive afterward. No reason. Consider it the cost of being a responsible adult who can be bothered to be as aware of your impact on the safety of the people around you as you are of your desire/need to go get buzzed.

And you know, if you're interested, it is completely possible to have a very fun, art and music-filled celebration of new year's without alcohol.
posted by Dreama at 5:42 AM on December 31, 2001

I recently heard in a defensive driving class that taking two benadryl is equivalent to 4 alcoholic drinks in terms of impairing driving ability. Also, sleepiness is one of the major factors contributing to auto accidents.
posted by rks404 at 7:45 AM on December 31, 2001

Yes Dreama. After having a few drinks your reflexes are diminished, but the same danger is present if you're talking (even to passengers not just on a cell phone), fumbling with the radio, eating or even just a little bit tired.

Folks whatever you do if you're going to be driving then don't talk, listen to music, and for god's sake please if you feel even the slightest bit tired call a cab or just lay down and take a nap.

The vast majority of drunk driving accidents happen when somebody has a blood alcahol level in excess of .15, but the don't have even one drink MADD Mothers crowd have lowered the legal limit in many states to .08, and there are people who think even that is too high.

I have no doubt that a lot of tragedy comes from people who drive when they are drunk. I don't think anybody advocates that, but the if you have any alcahol don't drink rhetoric seems to have more to do with a return to prohibition than a genuine concern with public safety based on any of the statistical evidence I've seen.

This Page, which is actually in direct opposition to my premise still goes a long way towards establishing my point for those who would care to read between their spin.
posted by willnot at 8:28 AM on December 31, 2001

My friends and I like going to First Night, but we sneak out to drink a little too.

My simple remedy for hangovers is to have a full pitcher of orange juice ready for the morning, and before bed drink 12-20 oz. of simple filtered water. And kava kava to sleep soundly.
posted by dhartung at 8:44 AM on December 31, 2001

The Blood Alcohol Educator told me I had to slam four Manhattans to hit the legal limit - which would mean I should be legal at three. There's no way I'd get behind the wheel after slamming three Manhattans - I'm lucky to be able to sit up at that point. And that's the voice of experience.

My point being that I'm a little dubious about the simulator's calculations. All the more reason for them to put up all those disclaimers, I suppose.
posted by nickmark at 11:57 AM on December 31, 2001

"rate of change of BAL versus time" "relative maximum BAL".. what! those online calculus engines.. didn't anyone tell them not to drink and derive? *ducks*
posted by alex3005 at 1:36 PM on December 31, 2001

Please, don't drive. Many places offer free taxi service on New Year's Eve.
posted by Carol Anne at 1:50 PM on December 31, 2001

Even if you're sober, don't drive. There will be drunk drivers out there and so it matters little whether you have your wits about you.
It's almost always some other uncontrollable and unpredictable drunk who provokes accidents - and it's often impossible to avoid them, no matter how clear-headed you are.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:45 PM on December 31, 2001

I am going to drink, and later, when I am both capable of driving according to me, and under the legal limit, I am going to drive. It has happened before, it will happen again, and my conscience is clear.
posted by bingo at 4:55 PM on December 31, 2001

Maybe I'm just stupid, but I don't see any button for sleeping pills or anything like that. Am I missing something?
posted by bytecode at 10:58 AM on January 1, 2002

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