Friday, September 25, 2009

Alcohol: "Joe can really hold his liquor"

We all know somebody who can "hold his liquor." These individuals can apparently drink significant quantities of alcohol and appear unaffected (or minimally affected). The key phrase here is "appear unaffected." Individuals who are experienced drinkers and usually consume alcohol on a regular basis become practiced at functioning under the influence of alcohol; they are used to performing simple tasks while intoxicated and give an outward appearance of being minimally intoxicated. But that view is deceptive. These experienced drinkers have developed the ability, through regular exposure to alcohol, to mask the outward appearance of intoxication. These individuals are just as affected as naive drinkers when it comes to the internal effects (those that are not easily observed) of alcohol. These effects include, among others, impaired vision, narrowing of the field of vision (tunnel vision), prolonged perception-reaction time, impaired hearing and most importantly, a serious degradation in the ability to perform divided attention tasks (driving a vehicle). So when you see someone who can "hold his liquor" be aware that he may be intoxicated and incapable of safely him home, don't let him get behind the wheel of his car.