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Alcohol All the details What is alcohol? • A liquid, produced by the fermentation (aging) or distillation (boiling/heating) of sugar or starch, that is the intoxicating agent in fermented drinks. • There are three different categories of alcohol: beer, wine and liquor. • The difference between the three is what sugar or starch they are made from, as well as the concentration of alcohol. Three categories • Liquor – includes alcohol such as whiskey, tequila, rum, vodka and gin. Made by distilling sugars. Highest alcohol concentration • Wine – made from fermenting fruit and other sugars over time. Medium alcohol concentration • Beer – made from fermenting starches/wheat. Lowest alcohol concentration Path through the body • Mouth: alcohol enters the body. • Stomach: some alcohol gets into the bloodstream in the stomach, but most goes on to the small intestine. • Small Intestine: alcohol enters the bloodstream through the walls of the small intestine. • Heart: pumps alcohol throughout the body. • Brain: alcohol reaches the brain. • Liver: finally, alcohol is oxidized by the liver at a rate of about 0.5 oz per hour. • Alcohol is converted into water, carbon dioxide and energy. Standard drink • The serving size for “one standard drink” of alcohol is different for each of our three categories, however because of the difference in alcohol concentration, each standard drink has about the same amount of alcohol. One shot (1.5 oz) of liquor One glass (4 oz.) of wine One can/bottle (12 oz.) of beer Standard drinks • Concentration • Alcohol concentration – the percentage of the entire fluid that is made up of pure concentrated alcohol. • Blood alcohol concentration – a comparison of the amount of alcohol to the amount of blood in someone’s system. • Typical alcohol concentrations: Beer ~ 5% Wine ~ 12% • Legal B.A.C. limits for drivers in WA state under 21 = 0% 21 and over = .08% Liquor ~ 40% B.a.c. factors • Gender • According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, a man and a woman who consume the same number of alcoholic beverages will normally have different BAC levels. A woman's will be higher because a female body contains less water and more fat tissue, which is not as readily penetrated by alcohol. b.a.c. factors • Drinks per Hour • When it comes to alcohol consumption and blood alcohol concentration, every person is different. The speed at which your body processes alcohol differs from one person to the next. In general, any more than one alcoholic drink per hour is too much for a liver to metabolize (process). One drink is considered to be 12 ounces of beer, 4 to 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor. b.a.c. factors • Body weight • The larger a person is, the more blood in his/her system. It is easier to increase a smaller/lighter person’s B.A.C. because of the fact there is less blood. Women are generally smaller than men. It might take only one drink for a woman (or man) who weighs less than 120 pounds to fail a BAC test. Someone who weighs many pounds more could consume slightly more alcohol because of his/her larger blood volume. b.a.c. factors • Food • According to the Mayo Clinic, if your stomach is empty while you're drinking, approximately 20 percent of the alcohol you consume can rush to your brain in less than 60 seconds. When there is food in your stomach, alcohol absorbs more gradually into the blood stream. • NOTE: this is food in the system BEFORE the person drinks, eating afterwards is NOT going to sober a person up faster. b.a.c. myth • Coffee Myth • The Mayo Clinic says drinking coffee will in no way help sober you up faster. Time is the only thing that will lower blood alcohol level. There is nothing to do but wait for your body to metabolize the alcohol.