Optimize your Buzz: How to Stay Where you Want to be
If you track the progression of how you feel through the night, it roughly resembles a bell curve. As the number of drinks increases, your mood gets better, you feel great, and the world is your oyster. You can see this phenomenon represented in graphical form below;
After you pass your optimum buzz, increases in your blood alcohol content (BAC) are not only going to make you feel worse, but are another nail in the hangover coffin. Depending on the person, the “best” feelings from alcohol come when your BAC is between 0.03 and 0.12.At this BAC, you are clinically in the “Euphoria” stage. Symptoms include sociability, talkativeness, increased self-confidence and decreased inhibitions.
However, as your BAC starts approaching 0.15 – 0.25, things begin to go downhill. At this point, you lose critical judgment, your perception is impaired, and your sensory-motor coordination is shot. But it gets worse. Around 0.3 BAC there is almost a complete loss of motor function, slurred speech and a potential for vomiting. Past 0.3, you are probably “blacked out,” and walking on a line close to death.
The question then becomes: How do I stay in the “Euphoria” stage? To start, let’s look at common drinks and their alcohol content (average % alcohol/average alcohol content by volume):
For simplicity, we are going to classify one drink as 0.50 oz of alcohol. You can see that one drink would approximately be one shot of hard liquor, one beer (lager) or one glass of wine. However, some beers and cocktails almost count as two drinks, and a double whiskey based drink counts as four. Here is a table of BACs based on weight and the number of drinks (@ 0.5 oz alcohol).
This table gives a rough estimate of what your blood alcohol content would be without consideration of absorption, elimination and tolerance. Said factors have a profound influence on your BAC, and should be taken into consideration. With all of this information in mind, let’s look at some examples of “how to stay where you want to be”;
Digg McBeer is a 150 pound, 23 year old computer programmer who only drinks beer. After Digg’s nightly meal of pizza and bread sticks, he heads out to the local watering hole with a friend. Because Digg is socially awkward, he doesn’t drink very much and has a low tolerance. After arriving (and finding the most secluded corner of the bar) he drinks three beers an hour for the first two hours. Looking at the chart, his BAC would be: 6 drinks consumed – 2 drinks eliminated (for the two hours) – 1 drink for slowed absorption = 0.075 BAC, and right in the zone. If Digg now drinks one beer per hour he will stay right where he wants to be.
Ally Boozeface is a 32 year old certified cougar, on the prowl once again. Ally has been in the game since her sophomore year in college, and has an extraordinarily high tolerance. Unfortunately, she has been packing on the pounds lately and now tips the scale at 160 pounds. To compensate, she usually drinks on an empty stomach. Ally’s favorite drink is gin and tonic (G&T), and she can drink them very fast. As soon as she reaches the local singles bar, Ally orders two gin and tonics and begins drinking. After the first hour, she has already put down four gin and tonics and is in a great mood. Lets see why; 4 G&T x (0.85 oz/G&T) = 3.4 oz alcohol / 0.5 oz alcohol/drink = 7 drinks. – 2 drinks (high metabolic tolerance) = 5 drinks. Ally has a BAC 0.117, which would normally be on the way down the graph, but is perfect for her because she has a high functional tolerance. If she drinks one G&T per hour she will stay where she wants to be.