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Staying Safe in the Heat: Alcohol vs. Water

It’s a really hot summer day, and you’re enjoying the weather with friends and family. You reach in your cooler and pull out an ice-cold beer to help cool you down. How does this impact you? 

Unfortunately, the effects of sizzling summer heat can be magnified when you drink alcohol. Below are some potential dangers to be on the lookout for: 


If you’re out in the heat for long periods — maybe an afternoon at the beach or having a family picnic at the park — you’re at risk of dehydration. Consuming alcohol heightens that risk. 

Drinking alcoholic beverages causes a reduction in the release of an antidiuretic hormone (ADH) called vasopressin. This ADH works with your kidneys to keep your body fluids balanced, and drinking alcohol can throw off that balance. 

Alcohol is a diuretic — which means more urinating and loss of fluid, which can lead to increased dehydration. When you add in increased sweating or loss of fluids from the hot sun, it can become a recipe for a dehydration disaster. 

Also, caffeine from any source, whether it’s coffee, soda, or some other type of mixer for your alcoholic beverage can increase the risk of dehydration even more.  

Dehydration magnifies the effects of intoxication, such as confusion and being off balance, which increases the risks associated with alcohol use in the heat. 

The Dehydration Answer: Water 

What should you do to avoid the risk of dehydration in the heat? You may want to try following recommendations: 

  • Make sure to drink 8 to 12 ounces of water for every standard alcoholic drink. This will help keep you hydrated while offsetting the dehydrating effects of the alcohol. 

  • Keep a reusable water bottle handy so you can grab drinks of waters between alcoholic beverages. Be sure to refill it as the day goes on. Another idea is to buy 8-ounce bottles of water and alternate them with your alcoholic beverages. If you don’t normally drink much water, it may help to infuse your water with fruit (or buy fruit-infused water) to make it more appealing. 

  • Relax and enjoy your day in the sun—just be sure to stay hydrated! Less alcohol and more water may be the key to staying safe. 

For additional information, contact your local Substance Abuse Counseling Center. 

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