Diving is, without a doubt, one of the most exciting activities in the world. However, we must not forget that the ocean can be a hostile environment and that we must always be on our guard. Therefore, it is not recommended to consume alcohol or other illicit substance before diving.
Alcohol can increase the risk of nitrogen narcosis, that is to say, deep intoxication due to excess nitrogen acting on the nervous system and resulting behavior. It can even intensify its effects. Alcohol consumption has a lot of consequences on the body. Have a look and examine the following list:
- The increase in peripheral blood flow and the absorption of nitrogen in the tissues.
- The increase in diuresis and the risk of dehydration.
- The increase in blood viscosity, especially in small blood vessels.
All of this can increase the risk of nitrogen retention during the dive - increasing the risk of bubbles and discomfort due to decompression as the diver moves up to the surface. Alcohol can also cause heat loss. The blood vessels of the skin dilate more than usual and the blood flow increases to fill the expanding vessels. This can produce hypothermia. Drinking right after the dive can also make it more difficult to warm up the body.
Alcohol can damage a part of the brain called anterior cingulate cortex, which detects errors and self-correcting to find a solution as soon as possible. This deterioration can begin after only 1 or 2 glasses. However, scuba diving requires great concentration and attention.
You must regularly check that your equipment is working properly and monitor the available oxygen level. Small errors in these areas can lead to major security risks. Alcohol also affects the skills required for any dive, such as reaction time, visual tracking, attention span, and judgment. During a dive, you must be able to navigate the currents and have an acute sense to manage the risks that may occur or to deal with emergencies such as injuries or property damage. Divers with alcohol effects are also more prone to nausea and vomiting during diving, which can easily cause asphyxiation.
Finally, the biggest risk of alcohol while diving is drowning. Drowning is one of the leading causes of unintentional death, especially among adult men. Alcohol intake is an important factor in 61% of non-boating drownings, and other studies have estimated that alcohol intake is a cause in 25-50% of drowning deaths. Since alcohol can affect a person's central nervous system and cognitive processes, it can have a negative impact on one's ability to survive in the water, especially if the diver is injured or lost.
If you still think it's a shame to spend a dive vacation without drinking alcohol and if you can not do without it, here are some tips and advice:
• The night before your dive, try to stop the consumption before 23h 30. If you cannot fall asleep before midnight, delay the morning dive and leave in the afternoon.
• Avoid alcohol at least 8 hours before diving.
• Limit your drinks to 2 or 3 the day before and take a non-alcoholic drink between each alcoholic drink.
• If you have been drinking the night before your dive, drink plenty of water or non-carbonated drinks even if you do not have a "hangover". This will ensure your hydration.
• Avoid drinking alcohol for at least an hour after diving and, even longer, diving at depths greater than 80 feet.
This is an inherently risky activity and associating it with alcohol is a very bad mix. What do you think?