It’s not a choice every adult makes, but for some, alcohol is an acceptable beverage to enjoy. In anticipation of upcoming holiday celebrations and social events, let’s talk about making good decisions around alcohol.
Clearly, one of the biggest concerns involving alcohol is drinking and driving. 28% of fatal car accidents involve a driver under the influence. This influence is determined by blood alcohol content (BAC). The legal limit ranges from 0.05 – 0.08%, but in Colorado, it’s 0.08%. Of course, anything less than 0.08% doesn’t guarantee unimpaired driving abilities.
- 12 – ounces of beer (5%)
- 8 – ounces of malt liquor (7%)
- 5 – ounces of wine (12%)
- 1.5 ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof (40%) distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, whiskey)
The Centers for Disease Control chart on the physical effects of alcohol is enlightening! It only takes two standard drinks before visual acuity and decision-making are compromised.
Rate of alcohol metabolism
How long it takes for your liver to process alcohol varies. Two factors affecting the rate of alcohol metabolism include age and body mass. With age, we make less of the enzymes needed to break it down, thus slowing metabolism.
Alcohol in excess of what the liver can metabolize circulates in muscle tissue and bodily fluid. Because of this, having a greater muscle mass helps distribute it, and lessens impairment. Acknowledging variability, most people can process one standard drink every 1 – 1 ½ hours.
- Designate a driver or prearrange transportation such as a car service or a cab
- Consume alcohol with food to slow absorption
- No more than one standard drink every 60 – 90 minute
- Alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
- For cocktails, add more mixer, less alcohol
- Have a system, other than memory, to keep track of how many drinks you’ve had
- Hosts, make it easy for guests to make a safe choice:
- Offer non-alcoholic drinks
- Put away alcohol an hour or more before the party ends
- Don’t accept a guest’s response of “I’m fine” if your gut tells you otherwise