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Why and how alcohol affects people differently

Imagine you are meeting up with some friends to have a barbecue. It’s a beautiful night, you haven’t seen them for a while and you are having a good time. You all have a few drinks throughout the night, but no one seems impaired. 

However, you could wind up being the person police suspect of drunk driving if the alcohol affects you more than the other people. Below are some reasons why this happens.

Factors that affect intoxication

A group of people could all have the same type and number of drinks and have different blood alcohol concentrations (BAC). This is because several factors affect how our bodies handle alcohol. 

  • Size and weight: A smaller person can become intoxicated more quickly than a larger person does. And someone with more body fat can have a higher BAC than a person with more muscle tissue.
  • Gender: Women who drink as much as men can have higher BACs because they tend to be smaller and absorb and metabolize alcohol differently.
  • Eating habits: Someone who has more food in their stomach can have a lower BAC than someone who drinks on an empty stomach because food slows alcohol absorption into your blood.
  • Medication: Several medications affect how people respond to alcohol. Someone taking medication could feel more impaired than someone who is not using medication. Further, if you are sick, you could feel impaired more quickly.
  • Type of alcohol consumed: Beer, alcohol and wine vary widely in their alcohol content. Typically, beer will have a lower alcohol content than a large glass of wine or cocktail.
  • Rate of intake: Drinking quickly can raise a person’s BAC higher than someone who had the same number of drinks over a longer period.

Using this information to avoid impaired driving

Understanding how and why alcohol affects people differently can help you make informed choices regarding drinking and driving. If you have not eaten recently or are on medication, know that you could feel more intoxicated than you would feel otherwise.

You might also opt for drinking a beer instead of a large cocktail or alternating your drinks with a glass of water to stay hydrated and slow down consumption.

Do not assume you have the same response to alcohol or BAC as someone else just because you’ve had the same number of drinks. 

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