While the effects of alcohol are somewhat predictable, there are a number of factors that affect how alcohol affects one person from another. Some of these factors include: mood, expectations, gender, fatigue, illness, and emotions.
Most of alcohol's effects during intoxication occur because of how alcohol affects the brain. However, one of the most rapid results of alcohol is on the central nervous system. Because alcohol interferes with the CNS's ability to analyze sensory information, this results in the common symptoms of being drunk, some of which include:
- Slurred speech
- Decreased motor coordination
- Decreased balance
- Impaired judgment
- The dulling of the sensation of pain
- Loss of ability to judge distance and heights
There are a number of factors that affect intoxication. The most significant factors include:
- Food in the body
- Strength of the drink
- Body weight
- Rate of consumption
- Functional tolerance
While the rate of consumption and the strength of a drink are obvious factors, people might be surprised to find out that alcohol affects women more than men. Even in a case where a woman weighs the same amount as a man, because women have less of the enzyme dehydrogenase, which breaks down alcohol in the stomach, a woman will have a higher BAC than a man of the same weight drinking the same amount of alcohol. Also, women tend to have a higher percentage of body fat than men and a lower percentage of water which affects alcohol absorption.
"But I have a high tolerance."
You may have heard a friend say, "Well, I have a high tolerance," or you may have said it yourself on occasion. "Functional tolerance" is the body's decrease in sensitivity to the effects of alcohol. In simple terms, a person who is exhibiting "functional tolerance" will not seem as intoxicated as someone with little or no functional tolerance. However, it's critical to note that this is simply a behavioral adaption to the effects of the alcohol; how you can handle your alcohol has absolutely no effect on your BAC.
When people are sick there is a higher chance that they are dehydrated. In effect, one will experience a higher blood alcohol concentration after drinking. Dehydration also makes the liver less efficient at eliminating alcohol. What's more, when sick people are on medication, it's going to increase the effect of the alcohol, thereby leading to further problems.
Being fatigued causes many of the same symptoms of being intoxicated, which magnifies the effects of alcohol. If someone is fatigued when they begin drinking, intoxication will only intensify the symptoms. The reason for this is because when someone is fatigued, the liver is less efficient at processing and eliminating alcohol, thus resulting in a higher BAC.
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