Sun and Alcohol: A Dangerous Cocktail

Barbecues, beaches, and bonfires. Just a few of the things about summer you've missed until now! With the longer days and warmer weather, many feel inclined to indulge in alcoholic beverages with friends. A cold drink on a hot day is as refreshing as it gets, as long as you are picking up the right drink. Indulging in alcoholic drinks should be done responsibly and, unfortunately, a lot of summer activities can become dangerous when alcohol is involved. The ways the sun and alcohol affect your body are more similar than you may think, making a mixture of the two a dangerous cocktail.

5 Risks of Drinking Alcohol in the Summer Sun

1. Heat Stroke: Alcohol combined with high temperatures means your body may not be able to regulate its own temperature effectively. Heat illness can present itself in 3 phases. The first is heat cramps from the loss of essential water and sodium. The second phase is heat exhaustion caused by the dehydration. Lastly, heat stroke is the final phase and could lead to shock or organ failure.

2. Dehydration: Both alcohol and the sun cause dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, and the sun causes you to sweat to stay cool. If you are drinking in the hot sun, you may be losing fluids twice as quickly.

3. Boating Accidents: Nearly 1/3 of all boating fatalities involve alcohol and alcohol use is attributed in up to 50 percent of teen and adolescent deaths. Sadly, people lose their ability to judge accurately or handle large machinery the more they drink.

4. Drowning: If you are drinking in or near water, you may lack needed coordination and energy to stay afloat or run the risk of passing out in the water.

5. Car Accidents: With many people taking road trips over the summer, drinking and driving is a large danger. Don't risk it this summer and "booze-cruise." If you know that a friend or family member has been drinking, give them a ride home or offer up a couch for them to crash on to keep them and other drivers safe.

The Effects of Alcohol and Sunshine: More Alike Than You Might Think

Reckless Behavior

Summer activities including biking, hiking, boating and more can become reckless very quickly, even when alcohol isn’t involved. You could easily become distracted out on the water or riding downhill quickly on a bike. Known as "liquid courage," alcohol is known for giving people a sense of bravery, and lack of common reasoning skills, which leads to reckless and dangerous behaviors. Alcohol and physical activity combined could lead to a higher risk of injury.


Soaking up the sun outside without proper liquid intake can cause dehydration. Your body sweats to cool itself off in the summer sunshine and, if those fluids aren't replaced, your body will begin to react negatively. Alcohol depletes your body of fluids through urination. If you don't drink enough water when outside on one occasion, and you drink too much alcohol on another occasion, you may notice your body reacting in similar ways. Symptoms can include dizziness, headache, dry mouth, and nausea.

Dilated Blood Vessels

What is known as fainting when overheated and "blacking out" when drunk are caused by similar factors. After spending time in the sun, your body begins to warm up, and your blood vessels begin to dilate. Dilated blood vessels make you more susceptible to fainting or passing out if you are not also properly hydrated. Drinking alcohol also causes dilated blood vessels in a similar way and causes similar results.

Drink and Play Responsibly This Summer

Don't let an alcohol-related accident cut your summer fun short. Drink and play responsibly this summer and don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Think you or a loved one may have an alcohol abuse problem? Take our substance abuse risk assessment today and contact Riverside Alcohol and Drug Services to learn how we have helped thousands of people learn how to live better, more meaningful lives and remain chemical-free.