Alcohol is not an evil thing. In moderation, it can be beneficial to your health. For example, a daily glass of red wine is believed to boost the immune system, increase bone density, support heart health, and may even prevent the onset of dementia in later years.
To ensure that alcohol remains a benefit and does not become a problem, it is important to know your blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, Facts.
That light relaxed feeling that most people get when they have a drink is the antidepressant aspect of alcohol, but that component is short-lived, and with further consumption, alcohol becomes a depressant.
If you drink mixers, a combination of alcohol and soda, your choice of diet or regular can make a difference. Mixing with diet soda will speed up the process, elevating your BAC more quickly. When mixing with regular soda, your body will metabolize the sugars of the soda first, and then the alcohol, slowing the process.
The only thing that will sober you up to a BAC of 0.00 is time. Drinking caffeine or taking a cold shower may make you feel more alert, but you are still impaired.
This is where some people get into trouble. They get into trouble, but say “I only had two drinks.” If those two drinks were 2 pints, 20-ounce pours, that is the equivalent of 3.3 beers by the adopted standard. By BAC standards, a drink is:
To ensure you are accurately keeping track of your BAC while drinking spirits, make sure you always measure the alcohol to prevent over-pouring.
Most people are familiar with your BAC being measured with a breathalyzer, and you may want to invest in your own if you want to have a cocktail, but then ensure that you are at 0.00 before you get behind the wheel again.
Blood Alcohol Concentration, also known as Blood Alcohol Content, can also be measured in the blood and through a urine test.
In most states, you are considered legally drunk with a BAC of .08% or higher. At this level, for every 1,000 milliliters of blood in your body, you have 0.8 milliliters of alcohol. This is why body size affects BAC, because the larger the body, the more blood you have to dilute the alcohol.
Every person consuming alcohol is different and will process it differently. Factors influencing your Blood Alcohol Concentration include:
A single drink (remember standard above) in general will raise your BAC by .02%. Your body will metabolize alcohol at a rate of approximately .015% per hour. So if you drink a 12-ounce can of beer, after 1 hour you will still have a BAC of about .005%. It’s negligible, but it can still affect you.
Keep the BAC timeline in mind before you get behind the wheel the next day. Just because you have slept for a while does not mean you are sober. If you stayed out until a 2 am bar time, and had a .08 BAC when you left, you will not be completely sober until approximately 7:30 am.
Even if you are within the legal limits for a DUI, that does not mean you are safe behind the wheel. With a BAC of .05 (after about 2 ½ drinks), you are twice as likely to get in an accident, because of impeded thought process.
You can go old-school and use a BAC Wheel to calculate your Blood Alcohol Concentration, or there are a number of BAC calculation apps, like BACtrack or IntelliDrink. Remember, these are only calculators that approximate your BAC and are completely reliant on accurate information. For the safest results, use a breathalyzer, or better yet, a designated driver.
Understanding BAC facts can help you know when to say when. If you are having trouble with this, or need more information about alcohol consumption and its consequences, contact us at Steps Recovery Centers in Utah.