By the beach with a cold brew, doesn’t that sound good!
But we can’t have it all, and combining diving with drinking is never a good idea. There are many reasons why we shouldn’t, but most importantly it’s because it puts the diver and others in danger. Alcohol disrupts our better judgement and slows down our reaction time, which can easily turn a fun situation into a feared one.
And while booze is sometimes regarded as liquid confidence, in the water, it can be a dangerous interpretation of confidence as it may fool us into being too confident with a situation that isn’t the safest. Pushing us to take careless risk we wouldn’t normally take.
Submerge in water, which conducts heat away from the body 25 times faster than air, we are even more susceptible to hypothermia when diving after the consumption of alcohol. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol actually cools your body down and not warm you up. A drink or two causes your blood vessels to dilate, moving warm blood closer to the surface of your skin, making you feel warmer temporarily while your core body temperature drops.
Narcosis is often said to feel a lot like being drunk. And taking from that, the deeper you go the more of its effects you will feel. One drink on the surface may not feel like much, but taking that 30 meters deep can quickly feel like the buzz from two or three drinks.
And as we all know too well from past experiences with hangovers, alcohol dehydrates our body. And dehydration increases our risk for Decompression Sickness. This goes for consumption before and after dives, which some studies have concluded, that heading to the bar directly after a dive is a bad idea.
During a dive, our bodies absorbs nitrogen from the gas we breathe. And since our body has no use for this nitrogen, it builds up the longer we stay underwater. This nitrogen is then slowly released once we are out of the water. But with alcohol consumption prior or after dives, the alcohol may affect our ability to absorb and eliminate nitrogen which will in turn make us more prone to DCS.
And while most of us are diving while on vacation, the temptation to relax with a few drinks can be hard to resist. That we understand. So the best advice for now would be not to drink in excess! Till then, cheers!