There have been more than a few times in my life where I had maaaaaybe just a little too much to drink when I would perhaps be better suited to be wide eyed and bushy tailed, like the night before finals in college, say. And in those times, I’d find myself looking for any magical elixir to cure what ails me; calculus is hard enough as is without seeing double. I would of course chug a lug of as much coffee as I could get my hands on, hoping for the best. But these efforts it seems were in vain as science has concluded that caffeine won’t sober you up.
In theory, coffee as an antidote for alcohol makes sense: alcohol makes you cloudy and unable to focus and coffee gives you focus. They should cancel each other out, right? Not so says The Independent. Based on the research of Professor Tony Moss of London South Bank University, the article notes that while coffee will make you feel more alert, it doesn’t do anything to curb alcohol’s effects on your hand-eye coordination and motor skills.
To test his theory, Professor Moss got five college students equally drunk (calculating the amount of vodka tonics to serve them based on body weight) and gave them each a hand-eye coordination test where they had to “guide a metal hoop around a wire without touching it.” They all failed. Each of the participants were then given a cup of coffee and asked to perform the test again. They all failed again.
The results jibe with a 2009 study where instead of using college students as lab rabs, lab rats were used as lab rats. In that study, drunken lab rats and drunken and then caffeinated lab rates performed equally poorly—and far below the levels of sober rats—at finding their way around a maze.
“Taking coffee is a stimulant that will reverse that feeling of being slightly tired as your blood alcohol is coming down,” Professor Moss stated, but “the only thing that’s going to sober you up in that respect is a bit of time.”
So coffee isn’t going to sober you up. Only time and a healthy amount of water will do that. But coffee is like 98% water, so while you are waiting to get right, you might as well enjoy a nice warm cup of mostly hydration.
Top image via Morbotron.