Goodbye, Conan O’Brien.

After being pushed out of his dream job, Conan spent his last few minutes as host of “The Tonight Show” thanking NBC, his staff and his fans. Finally, he asked one thing: “I’m asking this particularly of young people that watch. … Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism. For the record, it’s my least favorite quality. It doesn’t lead anywhere.” 

A cynical person adds a sour note to everything. They don’t believe that anything makes a significant difference. They believe people are only motivated by their self-interest. This column isn’t about being a cynic; it’s about wanting to know the truth. Be curious, ask your questions and seek answers. 

A few questions about alcohol and drugs have come my way. I was curious, so I asked UCSB Alcohol &Drug counselor-educator Stuart Light, MFTI, to help me give you the answers. 

What measures do hospitals take when someone is admitted for alcohol poisoning? Is there a specific drug that helps reduce a person’s blood alcohol content and helps them avoid death by alcohol poisoning? What exactly do doctors do when they pump the stomach of alcohol poisoned victims? 

Hospitals will do everything they can to support respiration — oxygen may be given, and vitals are monitored closely to watch blood pressure and heart rate. The patient is often given intravenous fluids, since hydration helps metabolize the alcohol. Sometimes, doctors will administer a shot of vitamin B12, given in the butt, to help prevent anemia and make the patient feel better.  

Stomach pumping, also known as gastric lavage, is an age-old technique of removing poison or toxins from the stomach. If medical personnel can relieve the stomach of its liquid contents before too much time passes, the negative impact of alcohol being absorbed into the bloodstream can be greatly reduced. This is done by passing a tube through the nose or mouth into the stomach. Warm water or a saline solution is administered in small doses, and stomach liquid is removed in small amounts until the contents of the stomach are removed. 

I’m curious about reports I’ve heard from people who take cocaine and drink alcohol at the same time — they say they can drink a lot more alcohol without becoming as intoxicated. I’ve also heard that you can drink more vodka when you drink it with Red Bull. Do these two correlate because they’re both stimulants? Do cocaine’s alkaline properties help keep BAC down?

Actually, it’s all wrong. Cocaine, caffeine and other stimulants do not keep one’s BAC level down. People believe cocaine helps sober them up because its stimulating effects somewhat offset the depressive effect of alcohol. They don’t feel as drunk as they really are. That’s a danger because, as you said, people think they are safe to drink more. But if they do, their BAC will continue to rise, and that could lead to alcohol poisoning.    

Another significant problem with taking cocaine and alcohol together is the creation of a third substance called cocaethylene. Cocaethylene appears to cause more cardiovascular damage and hepatotoxicity — chemical-driven liver damage — than either drug alone.

Lastly, no one can predict what the synergic effect of mixing alcohol with any other drug will have. Poly-drug use always increases the risk of overdose and other health risks above that of any individual drugs used alone.   

Why does marijuana cause a dry mouth?

Smoking marijuana causes dry mouth for two reasons: 

One — smoke itself dries the mucous membranes.

Two — marijuana affects the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which impacts the mucosa, as well as judgment and short term memory, in what’s known as an anti-cholinergic side effect.     

Conan ended his speech saying “Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.” 

For more student health insight, email with comments, questions or suggestions.