The effects of alcohol vary from person to person, but the bottom line is that driving with too much of it in your system can result in serious criminal charges and has the potential to be deadly.
Alcohol enters the bloodstream by way of absorption through the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, including your mouth, esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. Once alcohol becomes one with the bloodstream-and over half of it does so within 30 minutes-it reaches the brain in seconds and exercises its depressant effect. Hearing and vision will be less efficient, muscular coordination will deteriorate, and good judgment and/or self-control will diminish.
The rate of blood-alcohol content (BAC) elevation depends on the following factors:
•· How much you drink. The amount of alcohol consumed, with alcohol concentration varying from drink to drink.
•· Rate of Absorption. How quickly it’s absorbed-e.g., an empty stomach means no absorption competition from food or nonalcoholic drinks, thus an elevated rate of absorption. Water and citrus tend to slow the absorption rate; the presence of carbonation (e.g., champagne) accelerates it.
•· Body size. A person’s weight. Generally, the same drink will elevate a larger person’s BAC less than a smaller person’s.
Alcohol exits the body in two ways: oxidation and excretion. The liver breaks down over 90 percent of alcohol into water and carbon dioxide (oxidation). Carbon dioxide dissolves in the blood, makes a beeline to the lungs, and gets exhaled. The rest of the alcohol is eliminated via sweat and urine (excretion).
It’s helpful to understand this process when you plan your social gatherings, nights out and with Super Bowl parties right around the corner. Even more helpful is a designated driver, or a willingness to call for a ride, when you think you have had too much to drink.