Understanding the absorption rate of alcohol

| Jul 1, 2021 | dui/dwi

Some people think that if they only have a drink or two, it is still ok to get behind the wheel. However, there are numerous factors that affect how fast the body absorbs alcohol and how it metabolizes.

Two people can drink the same amount but have staggeringly different blood alcohol concentrations. It is important to know what things affect and do not affect the absorption of alcohol.

Factors that affect absorption

According to Stanford University Office of Alcohol Policy and Education, two of the factors are biological sex and weight. Women generally have more body fat and a lower percentage of water, and they have lower amounts of alcohol dehydrogenase, which is the enzyme that metabolizes alcohol. Individuals who weigh less also reach a higher BAC faster than those who weigh more.

Certain medications can cause adverse effects when taken with alcohol, and they often increase alcohol’s effect. How fast someone drinks affects how fast BAC increases, as does the amount of food someone has in the stomach. In fact, the Ramapo College of New Jersey reports that BAC peaks in 30 minutes to two hours if someone has an empty stomach, while it takes one to six hours to peak if someone has eaten.

Factors that do not affect absorption

One common misconception is that tolerance affects one’s BAC. However, this is not true. How a person handle’s his or her alcohol has no relation to the absorption or metabolization of alcohol. Individuals who drink more frequently usually misjudge what their BAC is and may make bad decisions.

Consuming caffeine and taking a cold shower also do not help someone sober up. Time is the only way, as the liver can only metabolize one drink every hour.