Alcohol affects your blood stream; thinning it out and making it move faster around your body – the higher the content of alcohol, the higher the level of intoxication. This effect is measured in Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) and, in turn, these levels relate to standard drinks and the standard 10g of alcohol per drink. Accidents caused by high BAC are why we have legislation and RSA Training requirements. But what exactly goes on in our blood streams?
As soon as you start drinking, your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) begins to rise. Having one standard drink will raise an average person’s blood alcohol level by about .015%. It takes around 30-60 minutes after you stop drinking for your BAC to reach its highest concentration, before it starts falling. This means that if you have a late night out drinking, you may still be over the limit the next morning, despite any steps taken to “Sober up.”
Your blood alcohol level can vary depending on variables such as: Weight, a smaller person needs fewer drinks than a large person to obtain a high blood alcohol level. This is mainly because they have less fluid to water it down inside their body. Gender, on average, the same number of drinks gives a woman a higher blood alcohol level than a man of the same weight. Eating food absorbs a portion of the alcohol in the stomach – reducing the amount and time that will be absorbed into the blood. Time spent drinking; if you have a number of drinks over a short time, it will give you a higher alcohol level than if you take longer to drink them.
Reducing your BAC back down takes time. There are no quick fixes. No amount of coffee, water, mints, bread or physical activity will make it go down faster. Your BAC will fall as your liver processes the alcohol.
Generally, the liver processes about 1 standard drink per hour, but this will vary depending on the size and health of the person.
Being responsible means keeping your BAC within legal limits. If your legal limit is 0.00% BAC, then you cannot drink any alcohol at all. If your limit is 0.05%, then the following guidelines may keep your BAC within the legal range.
Recommended intake for Legal Limits:
Men – No more than 2 standard drinks in the first hour, and 1 standard drink each hour after that.
Women – No more than 1 standard drink each hour.
However, there are many ways this can go wrong, and having any alcohol at all will affect your driving. If you are going to drive, it is recommended you don’t drink at all.
Understanding how Alcohol affects the body and the legal requirements around the service of alcohol is important, not only for those drinking but for those serving also.