Alcohol Effects and Alcohol Facts

What are the effects of alcohol?  How many drinks in an hour would be fatal?  Or how many drinks make it unsafe to drive?

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Alcohol Effects and Alcohol Facts

Is drinking good for us or bad for us?  The answer to that is of course both, depending on how we drink. 

Alcohol is an integral part of many cultures and societies.  Many enjoy the effects of alcohol, and, indeed, consider that a social occasion is not complete without a drink. Ask most people what effect alcoho has and they would say that alcohol is a social lubricant, that it helps people to be more relaxed, more confident and generally enjoy themselves.

There has been much publicity over the last few years regarding the beneficial effects on alcohol, for example how it reduces the incidence of coronary heart disease or promotes longer life.  Although the evidence for these benefits is hotly disputed by many scientists. Wha,t though, is less disputed is that alcohol is a poison and has a marked effect on the body and the nervous system, including death, when consumed in any quantity.

The effects of alcohol vary enormously, dependent on many factors. Factors such as gender, age, weight, level of fitness, mood and drinking experience for example will all increase or decrease the effects of alcohol. Below is a list of some of the acute effects you might expect to experience if you were to drink the following quantities in one hour.

  • 1 or 2 drinks - Drinkers begin to feel relaxed, mildly euphoric, sociable, and talkative.
  • 3 to 4 drinks - Judgement, attention, and control are somewhat impaired. Ability to drive safely begins to be limited. Sensory-motor and finer performance are impaired (become clumsy). People are less able to make rational decisions about their capabilities (for example, about driving.)
  • 4 to 5 drinks - This is legally drunk in most countries. There is a clear deterioration of reaction time and control.
  • 6 to 7 drinks - Vomiting can occur unless this level is reached slowly or a person has developed a tolerance to alcohol. Drinkers may be drowsy, they may display emotional instability, loss of critical judgement, impairment of perception, memory, and comprehension.
    Lack of sensor-motor co-ordination and impaired balance are typical. Decreased sensory responses and increased reaction times develop. The vision is significantly impaired, including limited ability to see detail, peripheral vision, and slower glare recovery.
  • 8 – 10 drinks - Drinkers are disoriented, confused, dizzy, and have exaggerated emotional states. Vision is disturbed, as is perception of colour, form, motion, and dimensions.
    Drinkers have increased pain threshold and lack of muscular co-ordination. They may stagger or lose the ability to walk and have slurred speech. Apathy and lethargy are typical.
  • 10 to 12 drinks - BAC = .25-.30 Drinkers display general inertia, near total loss of motor functions, little response to stimuli, inability to stand or walk, vomiting, and incontinence. Drinkers may lose consciousness or fall into a stupor.
  • More than 12 drinks – drinkers may become completely unconsciousness, depressed or absent reflexes, subnormal body temperature, incontinence, and impairment of circulation and respiration.

    Death may occur at .37% or higher (around 12 drinks). BACs of .45% and higher are fatal to nearly all individuals (around 15 drinks).

Obviously the more you drink in an hour the more dangerous it becomes.  Drinking a moderate quantity at a moderate rate will result in relaxation but drinking large amounts could risk overdose and death.  On average, people metabolise around one drink an hour, so, providing you are in good health, if you only drink around one beer or a small spirit an hour you would never be drunk.