Most people understand that drinking under the influence of alcohol is illegal and results in serious consequences. However, the number of drinks it takes before one individual is over the legal blood alcohol content can vary drastically from another person.
The differences in BAC among individuals is due to a number of factors that affect how long it takes for alcohol to break down in the body.
Factors that affect alcohol breakdown
According to the Stanford University Office of Alcohol Policy and Education, some of the basic factors involved with how long it takes someone to become intoxicated are gender and weight. In general, males can drink more than women due to their body composition and the presence of alcohol metabolizing enzymes. People who weigh more also tend to be able to drink more before reaching a BAC of .08.
Alcohol absorbs slower when there is food in the stomach, and eating high-protein foods is helpful in avoiding drinking too much. The rate in which a person drinks alcohol also makes a difference. Someone who sips a drink throughout the night will absorb less alcohol than someone who chugs a drink or takes shots.
The dangers of mixing alcohol with medication
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism also discusses how certain medications negatively interact with alcohol intake. Some may increase alcohol’s effect, while other interactions can be life-threatening. There are numerous mediations that people should not take with alcohol, but some examples include:
- Cardiovascular meds
- Aspirin and other non-narcotic pain relievers
People should also be aware that chronic drinking and medication use can result in long-term damage such as kidney and liver disease.