If alcohol is involved, it is wise to think ahead when planning a night out with friends. Drinking while intoxicated threatens not only your own health, but also the health of those who share the roads with you. Furthermore, overindulging in alcohol can lead to poor decision making and errors in judgment. You are probably well aware that drinking in excess can lead to serious health consequences. However, you may wonder exactly what constitutes drinking too much.
7. How the Body Handles Alcohol
When you drink alcohol, about 20% is absorbed into your bloodstream through your stomach. From there, the alcohol travels through your bloodstream to the liver for processing. The American Addiction Centers report that the average liver can metabolize one standard drink per hour. One standard drink equals about 12 ounces of beer, 8 ounces of malt liquor, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits. Meanwhile, about 80% of the alcohol you consume is absorbed by your small intestine. Unmetabolized alcohol may be excreted in your sweat, saliva, and urine.
6. Factors That Affect Metabolism of Alcohol
You may have noticed that you were able to consume more alcohol with fewer side effects in your younger days. In addition to age, there are several other factors that may affect an individual’s ability to metabolize alcohol. According to the National Institutes of Health, these include gender, health status, frequency of alcohol consumption, and family history. Furthermore, drinking on an empty stomach speeds the absorption of alcohol and can result in becoming intoxicated more quickly.
5. How Long Is Alcohol Detectable in Your System?
Depending on the test used, alcohol can be detected in your system from six hours to 90 days after drinking. According to The Recovery Village, alcohol can be detected in your blood for up to 24 hours, in your urine for up to 80 hours, and in your hair follicles for up to 90 days. A breathalyzer can detect alcohol on your breath for 12 to 24 hours.
4. The Morning After
You may not give much thought to your ability to drive the morning after a night of partying. However, it is critical to take into consideration how many drinks you had the night before and how much time has passed since you consumed them. To avoid waking up with remnants of alcohol in your bloodstream, alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic beverages. Make sure to eat food throughout the evening, and keep moving rather than sitting in one place. Finally, have your last drink early enough in the evening that your body will be able to metabolize it before morning.
3. Risks Associated with Drunkenness
Drunkenness carries many risks. There is the risk of drunk driving and injuring or killing yourself or others. Decreased inhibitions can lead to unsafe sex practices, resulting in sexually transmitted diseases, rape, or emotional regrets. Impaired judgment can lead to arguments, unsafe acts of bravado, and injury. Furthermore, the University of Rochester Medical Center asserts that binge drinkers have an increased risk of suicide, heart disease, liver disease, and alcohol poisoning. Signs of alcohol poisoning may include vomiting, seizures, irregular breathing, pale skin, low body temperature, and unconsciousness.
2. Planning Ahead for a Night Out
Alcohol can be an enjoyable component of an evening spent relaxing with friends. However, before setting out for the evening, it is crucial to plan ahead for your safety. Arrange to have a designated driver or car service if you plan to be drinking. Give yourself a limit before you begin drinking, since it can be difficult to make good decisions in the moment. Then, keep track of how many drinks you consume. Make sure to have food in your stomach before you start drinking to slow the absorption of the alcohol. Keep hydrated by drinking plain water throughout the evening.
1. Drinking in Moderation
To reduce your risks of adverse health consequences or injury, the CDC recommends drinking only in moderation. Drinking in moderation refers to no more than one alcoholic drink per day for women. Moderate drinking for men consists of no more than two alcoholic drinks per day. Persons who should avoid drinking any alcohol at all include those under the age of 21, pregnant women, and alcoholics. Individuals with certain medical conditions, those on medications that interact with alcohol or mental functioning, and individuals who are driving or operating machinery should avoid alcohol as well.