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Measuring Alcohol Intoxication

Posted on:8/21/2012
Acute intoxication after drinking results from alcohol traveling from the stomach and the intestines through the bloodstream past the liver and finally to the brain.


Acute intoxication after drinking results from alcohol traveling from the stomach and the intestines through the bloodstream past the liver and finally to the brain. The level of alcohol in the blood is called the blood alcohol concentration (BAC). To understand the relationship of drinking to the BAC, you need to know that all alcoholic beverages contain the same ethyl alcohol.

 

The only important differences between one form of alcohol and any other for health are the concentration of alcohol in the drink. The other substances in the drink, mostly flavorings to disguise the generally unpleasant taste of alcohol, have little or no health effects.

 

One 12-ounce can of beer contains about 0.5 ounce of pure ethyl alcohol. About 5 ounces of wine and about 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits (whiskey, rum, or vodka, for example) also contain about 0.5 ounce of pure alcohol. Each of these amounts of alcohol is considered equal to one drink. Thus, three beers is equal to about 15 ounces of wine, or about half a bottle of wine. This is also equal to three ordinary mixed drinks, assuming each drink contains about one 1.5-ounce sized jigger of distilled spirits.

 

When a person drinks alcohol, the alcohol is distributed more or less evenly throughout the person's body. Larger people (e.g., those who weigh more) have bigger bodies in which to dilute the alcohol they drink, and therefore their BAC is lower after each drink they take than is the BAC in people who weigh less.


  
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