How Alcohol Effects Us: The Biphasic Curve
by David J. Hanson, Ph. D.
Most people think that if a few drinks make them feel good then a lot of drinks will make them feel even better. But that’s not true. Although a few drinks will make them feel better, more will make them feel worse. It’s called the biphasic (or two part) effect.
Here’s what happens. People tend to feel better as their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) rises to about .05 (.055 to be exact). That’s the first phase or part. If people drink more and their BAC rises above .055, the negative effects of drinking increase and hangovers become worse. That’s the second phase. So it’s clearly smart to stop during the first phase and not progress into the second phase.
How much does it take to reach a BAC of about .05? The following charts provide guidelines. Remember that blood alcohol level is affected by gender, speed of drinking, type and amount of food consumed, and some medications.
Drinks Per Hour
|Body Weight in Pounds|
|% of Alcohol in Bloodstream|
|5||.19||.16||.13||.12||.11||.09||.09||.08||Legally Intoxicated in all States|
|Number of Drinks Per Hour||Body Weight in Pounds|
|% of Alcohol in Bloodstream|
|4||.18||.15||.13||.11||.10||.09||.08||.08||Legally Intoxicated in all States|
Here are some hints for maintaining a moderate blood alcohol concentration:
- Don't be fooled. The contents of the typical bottle or can of beer, glass of wine, or liquor drink (mixed drink or straight liquor) each contain virtually identical amounts of pure alcohol. When it comes to alcohol, a drink is a drink is a drink and are they all the same to a breathalyzer. For more, visit Standard Drinks.
- Know your limit. If you are not sure, experiment at home with your spouse or some other responsible individual. Explain what you are attempting to learn. Most people find that they can consume one drink per hour without any ill effects. Also, experiment with the "http://www.intox.com/wheel/drinkwheel.asp", which is very informative.
- Eat food while you drink. Food, especially high protein food such as meat and cheese will help slow the absorption of alcohol into your body.
- Sip your drink. If you gulp a drink, you also lose the pleasure of savoring its flavors and aromas.
- Don't participate in "chugging" contests or other drinking games.
- Accept a drink only when you really want one. If someone tries to force a drink on you, ask for a non-alcohol beverage instead. If that doesn't work, "lose" your drink by setting it down somewhere and leaving it.
- Skip a drink now and then. Having a non-alcoholic drink between alcoholic ones will help keep your blood alcohol content level down, as does spacing out your alcoholic drinks
- A good general guideline for most people is to limit consumption of alcohol beverages to one drink (beer, wine or spirits) per hour.
- Keep active; don't just sit around and drink. If you stay active you tend to drink less and to be more aware of any effects alcohol may be having on you.
- Beware of unfamiliar drinks. Some drinks, such as zombies and other fruit drinks, can be deceiving as the alcohol content is not detectable. Therefore, it is difficult to space them properly.
- Use alcohol carefully in connection with pharmaceuticals. Ask your physician or pharmacist about any precautions or prohibitions and follow any advice received.
Drinking too much alcohol is never a good idea.
Filed Under: Health