No judge or jury are necessary to decide the issue of whether or not drinking coffee can help a drunk person sober up. Scientifically speaking it cannot. According to an article in Men’s Health online quoting scientists and Ph.D.’s, there is no correlation between drinking coffee and becoming sober. The basic problem with drinking coffee while intoxicated in an effort to sober up is that drinking coffee may give a drunk person the false impression that they are sober and able to drive safely. Robert Swift, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Director of Brown University’s Center for Alcohol & Addiction Studies stated in the magazine’s article, “caffeine can trick your brain into thinking that you’re less drunk than you actually are. Caffeine masks alcohol’s sedation, but it doesn’t actually reduce the amount of alcohol in your blood. You’re still drunk.” Dr. Swift points out that not only does drinking coffee when drunk not help sober you up, it can have adverse consequences such as hindering a good night’s rest which can make a hangover worse and also cause dehydration.
Caffeine Overrides the Feelings of Sleepiness From Drinking
One of the reasons that drinking coffee to sober up is dangerous and even deadly is that the effects of caffeine override the drunk person’s natural feelings of sleepiness making one seem sharp but masking the diminished motor skills that result from the alcohol. To make matters worse, coffee is not the only high-caffeine beverage that people drink to stay awake. Theses days young people are replacing coffee with high-energy, high caffeine drinks like Red Bull, Monster, and Mountain Dew as a vehicle to reduce or delay the effects of alcohol and to sober up. Combining Red Bull with alcohol in a mixed drink will cause a temporary “cocaine-like” high for a short period of time. Unfortunately, drinking mixed drinks that include a high-energy drink instead of soda or water will only delay the psychological effects of the caffeine and cause a person to crash much harder later on, perhaps while driving. (2)
How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your Bloodstream?
Once consumed, alcohol immediately enters the blood stream and can stay there for up to 10 hours. It is difficult to determine in advance how much you can drink because there are so many factors that influence your blood alcohol content (BAC). Those factors include your age, sex, weight, food you just ate, and the type of alcohol you consumed. In addition, any medications you have taken will affect how long alcohol remains in your blood. Your body composition i.e., fat to muscle ratio also plays a role in how long alcohol stays with you. For the average male, drinking one large glass of wine takes your body about 3 hours to process. (1)
Why You Shouldn’t Drink Coffee When You’re Drunk
(1) How long does alcohol stay in your blood?