This question has been discussed by everyone from college students to respected scientists, probably for generations. Like many medical myths there is some “truth” to this notion. However, UAMS’ Department of Emergency Medicine says it’s important to know that coffee cannot reverse the effects of alcohol.
Coffee cannot ‘sober you up.’ It does not get rid of alcohol from the system. If you have an alcohol level above the legal limit, you can drink all the coffee you want and the alcohol level will not magically fall faster than it would have if you had not drunk the coffee. That said, there must have been some effect produced by the coffee that has led people to believe that there is an effect. This has been extensively studied, and it appears that the effect is due to a partial reversal of the sedating effect of the alcohol. Persons who were below the legal limit for driving were tested, with and without coffee. They appeared to perform better on tests of concentration after the coffee than before.
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