Medicine: Releasing the Brakes

For years, tosspots have been excusing their drinking by arguing that alcohol i) gives them "a lift," 2) helps them to do more work, 3) aids digestion, or 4) gives them heart to make a public speech which they would be too scared to make while cold sober. All four are just poor excuses, says the current Journal of the American Medical Association; by & large, alcohol is not a stimulant but a depressant.

Since alcohol affects different parts of the body in different ways, the Journal explains, its effects must be considered separately. For example, it is true that alcohol...