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AWARE|University Counseling Center

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)

Four factors work together to determine an individual's BAC.



         Amount of alcohol consumed

         Amount of time spent drinking

Follow this link to use an online BAC calculator to estimate the amount of alcohol for you to reach a certain BAC. It is important to note that this is only an estimate and based on individual differences (muscle to fat ratio, hormone levels, etc) your actual BAC may be higher or lower. It is always a good idea to view the BAC given as an overestimate, rather than an underestimate when making possibly life changing decisions, such as driving after consuming alcohol.

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) and Effects*

Alcohol's effects are roughly predictable from the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream, assuming that no tolerance has developed. At low to moderate BACs (.02-.07) the effects of alcohol are mainly pleasant, although some impairment is present. As BAC increases, the effects of alcohol become progressively more unpleasant and dangerous. The following list indicates what effects alcohol typically has at several BACs:
• .02% to .04% Lightheaded - Light and moderate drinkers begin to feel some effects including relaxation, sense of warmth, "high," minor impairment of judgment (about one drink)
• .05% to .06% Buzzed - Relaxation, euphoria, lower inhibitions, minor impairment of judgment, reasoning and memory, exaggerated emotions about their capabilities, for example, driving.
• .08% Legally Impaired definite impairment of muscle coordination, driving skills, and self-control. Impairment in balance, speech, vision, reaction time, and hearing. Increased risk of nausea and fatigue.
• .10% to .14% Drunk - Reduced "high" and increased depressive effects (anxiety, depression, gross motor impairment) judgment and perception severely impaired).
• .15% to .19% Sloppy Drunk - Strong state of depression, nausea, disorientation, dizzy, increased motor impairment, blurred vision, judgment further impaired. Risk of blackouts, vomiting, passing out, hangovers.
• .20% to .24% Dazed and Confused - Gross disorientation to time and place, increased nausea and vomiting, may need assistance to stand/walk, impervious to pain, blackout likely.
• .25% to .30% Stupor - All mental, physical and sensory functions are severely impaired, accidents very likely, little comprehension, may pass out suddenly.
• .31% and up Coma - Onset of coma, possibility of acute alcohol poisoning, death due to respiratory arrest is likely in 50% of drinkers.
*A Note about Tolerance: A drinker who has tolerance to alcohol needs a higher BAC than a non-tolerant drinker to experience the same effects shown in the chart. If your BAC has to be higher than shown above to experience the same effects, you are probably tolerant to alcohol. Alcohol tolerance is dangerous because physical damage and impairment are occurring without your knowledge.
Adapted from The Change Companies® CHOICES curriculum, Marlatt & Parks, 2005

Important FACTS
1. Vomiting doesn't get rid of the alcohol in your blood, therefore it does not lower your BAC or make you less drunk.
2. .05 is considered "buzz" level because at this level if an individual is 21 or older they will more than likely experience the positives of alcohol (increased talkativeness, increased sociability) and are not as at risk for the negatives associated with alcohol use (DUI, hangovers).
3. A person who drinks to a .25 at midnight will still be over the legal limit at 10 am the next morning.
4. Eating before drinking does not decrease the BAC, but helps to slow the absorption of alcohol.

Tips for Moderation
1. Set a limit of how many drinks you will have.
2. Get to buzz level and then stay there by focusing on other activities (i.e., dancing).
3. Avoid drinking games.
4. Drink for quality, NOT quantity.
5. When you're at a bar, stack your cups in order to track how many drinks you've had.
6. Keep the tabs from canned beverages and the tops from bottled beverages to track your drinks.
7. Eat before and during drinking.
8. Alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. If you get hangovers, it would be best to alternate with a non caffeinated beverage, to avoid further dehydration.
9. Use a designated driver or call Safe Ride(766-RIDE).
10.Pace drinks to 1 or less per hour.

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