Top 10 Drinking Dangers

A Convoy transporting Palestinian women prisoners, guarded by Israeli police leave from Hadarim prison north of Tel Aviv, Israel, Oct. 2, 2009.
AP Photo/Moti Milrod
When the good times start to roll, there's more to staying safe than handing over your car keys and avoiding prescription medications. In fact, there are some serious drinking dangers that can turn your happy hour into a trip to the emergency room if you mix your favorite cocktail with something risky — or something ordinary, for that matter.

Here are the top 10 booze-drinking-combo dangers you should be aware of before you crack open a cold one.

Sports And Booze

We saw it in the 2006 Winter Olympics with skiing phenom Bode Miller, but no matter how many Olympic medals you have, sports and booze spell trouble.

"I think that part of the reason drinking tends to happen in sports is that it becomes an association," says Jenn Berman, Ph.D., a psychologist in private practice in Beverly Hills, Calif., who was a member of the 1984 Olympic team in gymnastics. "You have a beer on the beach when you're playing volleyball, or you have a rum and cider when you're on the slopes skiing. The problem is it's not a good association."

Clearly, there's a level of risk in sports without adding alcohol to the mix. With alcohol, the risk climbs — significantly.

"The combination of alcohol and sports is very destructive," says Berman. "The obvious consequences are getting hurt. You are so much more likely to get hurt when you've even had one drink because alcohol slows your motor skills and your judgment."

Alcohol And Sex

They're an age-old combination, but these two together can definitely mean some serious consequences.

"The consequences of mixing alcohol and sex are you are less likely to use a condom, you're more likely to get a venereal disease, or get pregnant, or get someone pregnant," Berman tells WebMD. "You're also more likely to sleep with someone you wouldn't otherwise sleep with."

According to the collegedrinkingprevention.gov Web site, "400,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 had unprotected sex, and more than 100,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report having been too intoxicated to know if they consented to having sex."

Pay Attention To Your Alcohol

Another bad combination with alcohol isn't something a person does to herself, but something someone else does to her. It's rohypnol — the date rape drug. It's a central nervous system depressant, like Valium, but 10 times more potent, according to the White House Drug Policy Web site. It's tasteless, odorless and dissolves in liquid, so it can easily be put in a beer without you knowing — slowing a person's psychomotor performance and causing muscle relaxation, decreased blood pressure, sleepiness, and/or amnesia, according to the Web site.

"Make sure you watch your own drink," says Berman. "Don't let someone bring you a drink. Watch the bartender when he makes your drink, and don't let it out of your sight."

The problem is the more you drink, the harder it is to be aware of your surroundings, including the beer right in front of your face.

"The difficult thing is when you've had a drink, you're more likely to be less careful and not pay attention and talk to your friends," says Berman. "It's hard to watch your drink and be drunk at the same time."

High-Tech Trouble

A few drinks combined with a computer can lead a person to some high-tech trouble with online temptations — like Internet shopping and gambling.

"Alcohol makes a person's inhibitions disappear, so they make choices that aren't in their best interest," says Berman. "And there's something with online gambling and shopping where money doesn't feel real. So when you've had alcohol and your inhibitions are down, it's easier to make impulsive decisions and click a button rather than think about the consequences."