6 Ways To Help You Sober Up Fast
So, you’ve been drinking alcohol tonight and want to sober up. What should you do to sober up, you ask? After scouring the internet, you might not find the answers you’re looking for. That’s because, most of the time, nothing you do will help you to “sober up quickly.”
It’s a common myth that drinking plenty of water and snacking on carb-heavy foods will actually lower your blood alcohol level, but sadly this is not the case. Instead, the tips and tricks you read will likely make you feel more sober without lowering your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels.
When it comes to being sober, you may think and feel like you are, but reading your BAC is the only way to tell. The amount of alcohol in your system may not always match up to the alcohol’s effects. That means that even when you think you might be fine to drive, your body might lie to you, and you don’t want to risk getting pulled over and getting a DUI for drunk driving.
If you want to learn the difference between sobering up from alcohol and feeling sober, keep reading!
How Long Does It Take To Sober Up?
The process of sobering up will differ for every person based on their sex, weight, height, and if you’re mixing substances together. A standard drink that a person consumes can raise their BAC by .03 to .05 percent.
Smaller people might be more impacted by the same alcohol intake, while larger people might be on the lower end of the range. However, everyone has the same alcohol metabolism rate of .015 percent every hour. No matter how many methods you try, this rate will stay the same.
For example, if someone has a BAC level of .18 percent, they are well over the legal limit of .08 percent and will need upwards of seven hours to get their BAC below the legal limit. Even then, you might still feel some of the effects of alcohol intoxication and could benefit from a couple more hours.
The quickest way to actually sober up is to stop drinking — full stop. More alcohol consumption translates to more absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream and a higher blood alcohol content as your body processes the drinks.
Your best bet at remaining sober or being able to sober up fast is if you keep yourself limited to no more than three drinks in one night or less, depending on how long you’re spending out.
Appearing Sober vs. Being Sober
How you feel and how you test are completely different. People that struggle with alcohol addiction or alcohol use disorder (AUD) may have multiple alcoholic beverages and not feel the effects of alcohol.
They might appear to be sober, acting like they can function when in reality, their BAC is through the roof. Many cases of alcohol poisoning requiring emergency room healthcare result from this disparity.
Appearing sober and being sober are two very different things. Some people may be below the legal limit and feel tipsier off of one alcoholic drink than someone who has had five drinks in two hours. The only way to know if you’re sober is to test your BAC, and not everyone has a breathalyzer available to them.
How Do I Feel More Sober?
While you cannot sober up quickly from any one method, some ways might help you feel more alert and functional. However, these tips do not mean that you’re sober and able to act as you would if you were.
Do not get behind a wheel or operate machinery that could prove dangerous, even if you feel like you’ve sobered up. You don’t want to risk hurting yourself or others!
1. Go to Sleep
Arguably one of the best ways to help you detox is to sleep. Not only does sleeping kill time (which is needed to lower your BAC levels), but it helps your body metabolize the alcohol inside of it. When you sleep, your liver can focus solely on doing its job to metabolize the alcohol and get you to a point where you can function properly.
Sleep allows your body to eliminate the toxins inside of it uninterrupted. When you’re sleeping, you’re not consuming more alcohol or putting anything else harmful into your body.
2. Drinking Coffee
While alcohol is a depressant, caffeine is a stimulant that can help you to feel more alert. While it doesn’t actually help to metabolize the alcohol in your body, it can help you to feel sober. Your focus might improve, and you might feel more aware, but your BAC levels won’t change, and you’ll still be impaired.
Additionally, drinking too much alcohol and caffeine can put stress on your heart and create issues for you later in life.
3. Consume Water While You Drink
Chugging water after you drink probably won’t do what you think it will. Water won’t help you sober up, but it will help mitigate any negative hangover symptoms your body is preparing to feel. Water helps with our hydration, while alcohol dehydrates us.
Drinking a glass of water in between every drink can help give your body time to metabolize the alcohol, though. This would mean that over two hours, you might cut your drinks down by half the amount you’d normally drink simply by drinking water simultaneously.
Not only will it fill you up, but it will slow down how fast you drink. You might be able to metabolize more of the alcohol in your system if you spread your drinks over a few hours.
4. Eat Something Before You Drink
Eating after you drink won’t “soak up” alcohol like you think it will. It sure will taste delicious, but it won’t help you to sober up quicker than anything else. It’s suggested that you eat a big meal with fatty foods and carbohydrates before you decide to drink because that might slow down your body's absorption of alcohol later on.
Eating food before, during, and after you drink can help to minimize the hangover effects you will feel the next day. You really want to avoid drinking on an empty stomach. Avoiding hangovers is mainly taking care of yourself with proper nutrition, drinking enough water, and knowing your limit when consuming alcohol.
5. Take a Cold Shower
Cold showers won’t do anything to lower your BAC, but they can help you to feel more alert. This can be useful when you wake up after a long night of drinking. You will probably feel the negative after-effects of a hangover, and cold water can jolt you awake.
Getting in the shower is a solution to many illnesses, so it makes sense that trying to sober up would come to mind. A cold shower can help with headaches, drowsiness, and concentration, but it won’t do much to soak up the remaining alcohol in your system.
This is likely not the first thing you want to try after a night of drinking. It’s possible that even the thought of trying to work out after drinking makes you sick to your stomach. Thinking exercise could help sober you up because it can make you feel more alert.
While exercise will make you more alert and maybe improve your concentration abilities, it definitely won’t change your BAC, and you might not actually feel so great after doing it. A workout the morning after might be what it takes to jumpstart your day and give you some more time to burn off that alcohol in your system.
The Solution to Sobering Up
The only solution there actually is to sober up from alcohol is time. Time is what you need to become sober. Though you might feel sober after partaking in some of these methods, you aren’t actually until your BAC levels dip below .08 percent.
The problem with feeling sober is that even several hours after your last drink, you could still have too much alcohol in your system. Some people sleep at 3 a.m. and wake up by 9 a.m. thinking they are good to drive. They may think what they’re feeling is just tiredness, but in fact, that’s the side effect of alcohol.
You don’t want to risk hurting yourself or anyone, so be sure you’re sober before getting behind the wheel.
Seek Out a Sober Community
One of the best ways to avoid having to sober up quickly is to become completely sober! Sobriety can be scary, but it has many benefits. Finding a community of other sober-seeking individuals can help you achieve your sobriety goals.
With Sober Sidekick, you can support your peers and also feel supported by them. You can gain access to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings whenever you need to, as well as be able to talk with medical professionals about your concerns.
Food As Harm Reduction During A Drinking Session: Reducing The Harm Or Normalising Harmful Use Of Alcohol? A Qualitative Comparative Analysis Of Alcohol Industry And Non-Alcohol Industry-Funded Guidance | NCBI