Blood Alcohol Content

Is blood alcohol content (BAC) a measure for how drunk a person is? In the information below you will find the answer to this question and a discussion about the issue from both psychological and general points of view.

First, let's look at some interesting information about alcohol. This is considered to be very strong, mind-altering substance, available in a lot of forms - beer, wine, or liquor.

When talking about this topic, we should consider the fact that alcohol consumption is so common and encouraged in our culture. Unfortunately people often forget that alcohol is still a drug that our bodies treat as a toxin. It is essentially, a poison.

It absorbs quickly into the bloodstream through the stomach and intestinal lining (alcohol is digested more easily than food is) and is transmitted to all parts of the human body.

When it reaches the human brain, alcohol affects all control centers of the body. This always generates poor judgment, much slower reflexes, increasingly blurred vision and serious problems with coordination.

It is known that the liver of a drunken person processes alcohol out of his system at an average rate of about 1.5 ounces of 80 proof alcohol per hour. Nothing can really speed this process up: not exercising, vomiting, or drinking several cups of strong coffee. When somebody drinks faster than his body can process it, alcohol causes intoxication (literally alcohol poisoning).

A "drink" is usually defined as one 12-ounce glass of beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof liquor. Some recent events on this topic brought attention to the problem of binge drinking (defined as 5 or more drinks in a row for men and 4 or more for women). Most people become intoxicated if they binge drink.

Seasoned drinkers say to themselves "I don't think I'm drunk after five drinks". They should remember that severe intoxication is caused by how large the volume of alcohol is in their bloodstream in relation to the volume of blood.

These days, the most common method to determine blood alcohol content is through testing with a breathalyzer (also known as a breath alcohol tester). Breathalyzers offer correct measurements of how drunk somebody is by showing the alcohol percentage present in his or her bloodstream by analyzing their exhaled breath.

The common fact is that your BAC is probably higher than you might realize after drinking several drinks. This is why most people don't know their BAC when they are drinking. Usually they know their body has some tolerance to alcohol.

This tolerance that our bodies are able to develop to alcohol makes the problem more difficult when talking about how we evaluate alcohol’s effects. Alcohol consumption always affects people's judgment processes. That's one reason why it is very hard for someone to ascertain their own level of intoxication.

Here are some tips for keeping your BAC level as low as possible:

  • Don't even think about drinking when you are pregnant, needing to drive or if you're on medication.
  • Try to drink only one drink per hour and never more than three drinks per event.
  • Try to make your decisions about how much you drink, with whom, and how you plan on getting home before you go out. Most of the people who drink don't know what level their BAC is until police officers measure it for them.
  • Test yourself