Substance Use

Does Showering Help You Sober Up?

drunk man in suit in bathtub with bottle of liquor

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A cold shower boosts alertness, while warm showers help you to relax. Taking a shower after a particularly challenging day can help you de-stress and relieve tension. However, showering won’t help you sober up.

Getting sober is a natural process that can take hours or weeks, depending on the amount of alcohol you’ve consumed. The only way to get sober is to stop drinking alcohol until your body processes it.

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Alcohol Metabolism and Its Effects

The process of alcohol metabolism primarily occurs in the liver, a vital organ responsible for breaking down ethanol, the active component in alcoholic beverages. 

Understanding the intricacies of alcohol metabolism sheds light on its effects on the body.

  1. Ethanol Breakdown: The liver metabolizes ethanol through a two-step process. First, it converts ethanol into acetaldehyde, a toxic substance. Subsequently, acetaldehyde transforms into acetate, a less harmful compound, which is further metabolized into water and carbon dioxide for elimination from the body. (1)
  2. Factors Affecting Metabolism
    • Liver Health: The liver’s efficiency in metabolizing alcohol depends on its health. Chronic alcohol consumption can lead to liver diseases, hindering the metabolism process. (2)
    • Genetics: Genetic factors influence enzyme production, affecting how quickly the body breaks down alcohol. Some individuals metabolize alcohol more rapidly than others.
  3. Health Conditions Impact
    • Liver Diseases: Conditions like cirrhosis or fatty liver disease compromise the liver’s ability to metabolize alcohol efficiently, leading to prolonged exposure to its toxic byproducts.
    • Medications: Certain medications can interact with alcohol and impact metabolism, potentially intensifying its effects or causing adverse reactions.
  4. Alcohol’s Effects on the Liver
    • Liver Inflammation: Excessive alcohol consumption can cause inflammation, leading to conditions like alcoholic hepatitis.
    • Cirrhosis: Prolonged alcohol abuse may result in cirrhosis, a severe and irreversible scarring of the liver tissue.

Understanding alcohol metabolism provides insights into the potential health impacts of excessive alcohol consumption, emphasizing the importance of moderation and considering individual health factors.

Showering and Sobriety: Facts vs. Fiction

To rid nausea, dizziness, and other uncomfortable symptoms of intoxication, you may turn to Google for advice. However, some of this advice can be misleading or even dangerous. For example, you might have heard that showering can help you sober up fast and help with the hungover feeling the next day.

However, no credible studies highlight a link between taking a shower and getting sober. While showering cannot rid your body of alcohol, it is beneficial in other ways.

Here are some of the facts (and fiction) about showering and a night of drinking.

Fact: Warm Showers Reduce Blood Pressure

According to Harvard Health Publishing, a warm shower can lower your blood pressure, calming the body. A study published by the National Library of Medicine found that blood pressure decreases within six hours of drinking. However, 12 hours later, it begins to increase and continues to rise for 24 hours.

Fact: Warm Showers Have a Relaxing Effect

Some people smoke cannabis while drinking alcohol. Drugs like cannabis trigger substance-induced anxiety. This uncomfortable condition causes an individual to panic shortly after ingesting weed or alcohol. 

Some people develop Substance-Induced Anxiety after discontinuing the use of drugs. The National Library of Medicine states that a hot bath relieves panic related to chronic cannabis use.

Showering can also provide relief if you feel anxious before drinking or using drugs. However, it is essential to address the causes of anxiety by seeking professional help, especially if it interferes with your daily life. (3)

Fact: Showering Counteracts Some Symptoms of Dehydration

According to MedlinePlus, alcohol can dehydrate your skin. Taking a warm shower will rehydrate it and alleviate itchiness. In addition to dry skin, excessive drinking leads to alcohol poisoning, triggering nausea and acid reflux, which leads to internal dehydration.

Fiction: Cold Showers Will Help You Sober Up

Warm showers may soothe you and bring about relaxation, but cold showers are often used as a quick perk. If you’re tired, sluggish, or distracted, a cold shower can help you focus and feel more alert.

According to Ohio State Health, a 10 to 20-minute immersion in cold water will help you lose weight and sleep better — but it will not speed up the body’s ability to metabolize alcohol. 

Does Taking a Shower Make You Feel Better?

Showering after consuming alcohol can provide a sense of refreshment and wakefulness. The psychological effects of feeling clean and invigorated may create the illusion of increased sobriety.

However, it’s important to note that while a shower can make you feel better, it does not reduce your blood alcohol level. The physiological processes responsible for alcohol metabolism occur internally and are not influenced by external activities like showering.

Risks Associated with Showering While Intoxicated

Showering while intoxicated poses several risks. Alcohol impairs coordination and balance, increasing the likelihood of slips, falls, and injuries in a wet environment like a shower. Impaired judgment may also lead to poor decision-making, such as using hot water that could result in burns.

Additionally, the soothing and relaxing effects of a shower may exacerbate alcohol-induced drowsiness, potentially increasing the risk of falling asleep in the shower, which can be hazardous. It’s crucial to prioritize safety and consider alternative methods for managing alcohol intoxication.

Common Myths About Sobering Up

Several myths persist regarding quick methods for sobering up. It’s essential to debunk these misconceptions to promote accurate information and safer practices:

  1. Coffee Sobering Up Myth:Myth: Drinking coffee can rapidly reduce intoxication. Reality: While coffee provides a temporary feeling of alertness, it does not decrease blood alcohol content (BAC). What really helps is drinking water to sober up. (4)
  2. Cold ShowersSobering Up Myth:Myth: Cold showers can lower BAC levels and speed up sobriety. Reality: Cold showers may create alertness but do not impact BAC reduction; they are not a reliable method for sobering up.
  3. Exercising Sobering Up Myth:Myth: Engaging in physical activity can quickly eliminate alcohol from the system. Reality: Exercise does not accelerate alcohol metabolism, and strenuous activity while intoxicated can be dangerous.
  4. Timeless Myths:Myth: Time alone can completely sober you up. Reality: While time is crucial for alcohol metabolism, it doesn’t guarantee sobriety, and the effects can vary based on factors like body weight and alcohol consumed.

Debunking these myths emphasizes the importance of informed choices and discourages reliance on ineffective methods for rapid sobriety.

Effective Ways to Sober Up

The University of Notre Dame, Division of Student Affairs states that snacking can slow the absorption of alcohol, which may delay the feeling of being drunk. Which is why it’s not advised to drink on an empty stomach. However, if you have a high blood alcohol level this may not help. 

Will Drinking Coffee Help Me Get Sober?

Some people drink strong coffee to counteract feelings of fatigue brought on by intoxication. This is due to the caffeine in coffee, which makes you feel more alert. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns against mixing caffeine and alcohol.

Caffeine masks the depressive nature of alcohol, which can give you a false sense of sobriety. This causes a person to drink more than their body can process, leading to alcohol poisoning. It may also result in liver damage and an increased risk of self-harm.

Although caffeine cannot help, staying hydrated relieves nausea and an upset stomach. Taking sips of a sports drink replenishes electrolytes lost through excessive urination and vomiting. These effects of alcohol often accompany a hangover. 

How to Recognize and Address Alcohol Use Disorder

Repeated alcohol consumption can increase your chance of developing Alcohol Use Disorder. Alcohol Use Disorder occurs when your body has an increased tolerance to and alcohol dependence. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive alcohol use impacts your physical and mental health and may also negatively impact your work and relationships.

If you don’t sober up, you also have a greater risk of developing alcohol poisoning. To avoid this tragic outcome, seek help if you have an Alcohol Use Disorder or Substance Use Disorder.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder can save your life. (5)

The symptoms of AUD are:

You can recover from AUD with help from addiction specialists. The earlier you seek help, the less likely you are to overdose or have a detrimental outcome.

Get Help With Alcohol Addiction Today

If you are a drinker and find the need to sober up multiple times a week, you might have an addiction. Addiction is a mental disease that requires professional care. It causes changes to the way you think and behave. Comprehensive care is the key to addressing the psychological and physical changes caused by drug addiction.

A comprehensive approach to addiction includes detox and support from others. Evidence-based treatment modalities such as cognitive behavioral therapy and SMART recovery help prevent relapse and further substance abuse.

If you’re ready to begin a life free from addiction, we’re here to help.

The addiction specialists and healthcare providers at Zinnia Health are prepared to meet you along your journey to sobriety. Together we can facilitate a successful path toward recovery. Call us at (855) 430-9439 to learn about our comprehensive addiction approach.


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