Consumption of alcohol is considered a casual matter. People drink for celebration, socializing, or just for relaxing. Some people consume alcohol out of sheer desperation or the feeling to get intoxicated. The people who consume alcohol process it at a constant rate that varies with each individual.
Even when consumed in small amounts, alcohol has a distinguishable effect on the body. Several factors influence how long an individual feels the effects of alcohol. These factors may include age, gender, body composition, and overall health. Alcohol is easily absorbed into the blood and can be measured within minutes of consumption. About an hour after drinking, the amount of alcohol in the blood reaches its highest level.
However, the amount of time it takes for the blood alcohol to reach its highest level increases if there is food in the stomach. Alcohol acts as a sedative and depresses the central nervous system when taken in large amounts. Binge drinking is a pattern of excessive alcohol consumption in a short period of time. Typically, women consuming 4 or more drinks and men consuming 5 or more drinks in a span of two hours are considered binge drinking.
Blood Alcohol Content Level
The alcohol content in the blood is measured in milligrams (mg) of alcohol per 100 milliliters (ml) of blood as a percentage, which is usually expressed as a decimal and is known as blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The BAC determines the effects of alcohol on an individual. With an increase in BAC, the level of alcohol-related impairment increases. However, many individuals with high BAC levels show minimal behavioral slippage due to the tolerance that develops with chronic use.
After consumption alcohol gets absorbed into the bloodstream and travel throughout the body and to the brain, affecting cognitive functions and the ability to perform physical tasks. For instance, a BAC of 0.02% will have effects like some loss of judgment, relaxation, slight body warmth, altered mood. While for drivers with this level of BAC, the added effects could be decline in visual functions (rapid tracking of moving target) and the ability to perform two tasks at the same time (divided attention).
Do We Really Think About the Aftermath When We Consume Alcohol?
Once the blood-alcohol level goes over 0.05%, negative impacts of alcohol start to kick in. A person with BAC of 0.08% will experience poor muscle coordination, difficulty detecting danger, impaired judgment, reduced information processing capability, loss of concentration, self-control, reasoning, and memory. Driving skills can be misguided even before an individual reaches the legal blood alcohol limit, but at 0.08 the risk of having a vehicle crash increases significantly.
There are different ways to check the blood alcohol level in an individual. Most people are familiar with breathalyzers which are used by law enforcement officers, mostly on roadsides, to encounter cases of driving under the influence of alcohol. In recent times, there has been a significant rise in the rate of deaths caused due to drink and drive incidences. Owing to the prevalence of alcohol-impaired drivers’ crash involvement, there has been a high demand from devices like breath analyzers, further expanding the breathalyzer market.
Another way to determine BAC is the examination of blood samples withdrawn from the body of an individual. While breath tests provide rapid on-spot results, blood tests are one of the most reliable methods to detect alcohol level in blood. Sometimes people who drink unhealthy amounts of alcohol be inclined to misjudge how much they consume. Thus, blood testing is a useful tool for measuring actual alcohol consumption.
Most blood tests depend on biomarkers, which show how an individual’s organs function. Alcohol consumption impacts indirect biomarkers, but it is not the only thing that can affect them. On the other hand, direct biomarkers only arise after alcohol consumption, making them an accurate determinator of the amount of alcohol recently consumed by an individual. Initially, to determine BAC, blood tests relied on indirect markers.
While in some cases indirect biomarker tests are as low as 44% accurate, direct biomarker testing show approximately 99% accuracy. Through fingernail and hair testing results, a direct biomarker blood test is even more reliable. Alcohol affects everyone a little differently. Even if you drink the same alcoholic beverage at the same rate as another individual, your bodily reactions will differ.