Information About Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)

Submitted on March 27, 2012

Who doesn't like a drink or two after a long hard day? When consumed in small quantities, alcohol can be a relaxant. It allows you to relax and let go after a stressful day. However alcohol is also a system suppressor. Drinking beyond capacity and binge drinking leads to a severe impairment in judgment and coordination. It also affects vision, reaction time, and it causes speech slurring and drowsiness. Consuming large quantities of alcohol therefore can be very dangerous.

What is Blood Alcohol Concentration?

The measure of alcohol levels in the blood is what is known as blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or blood alcohol content. It is a count of alcohol consumed versus alcohol eliminated by the system. BAC is most commonly used measure for legal or medical purposes.

Alcohol Absorption In the Body

It is essential to understand how the body processes alcohol. When you consume alcohol, the drink goes straight to your stomach. When you drink on a full stomach, the alcohol is soaked into the food particles and passed through the digestive tract for absorption. This keeps the alcohol unabsorbed for a longer period of time. Either way, the alcohol is absorbed through the intestines and into the blood and transported to the brain.

The rate of alcohol absorption depends from individual to individual. It is based on variables like body weight, gender, quantity of alcohol consumed, rate of ingestion and metabolism and time since last drink. Drinking, especially binge drinking can take a heavy toll on the body as it takes at least an hour for one measure of drink to be absorbed and leave the body. The more you drink, the longer it takes for the body to absorb the alcohol. Women and overweight individuals take longer to process alcohol as they have a higher percent of body fat; the greater the fat content, the longer the alcohol is present in the blood stream. Blood alcohol levels play a significant role in impairing health. This is especially true for habitual drinking. Uncontrolled BAC can cause blackouts and alcohol poisoning, and can also lead to major accidents that could otherwise have been avoided.

Medics and law enforcement officials use a blood alcohol concentration calculator (or a BAC calculator) to measure blood alcohol levels. Contrary to belief this isn't a measure of how many drinks you've had but a calculation based on the number of drinks, alcohol percentage, weight, and time of last drink. A BAC calculator is most commonly observed in drunken driving cases. Different countries have different blood alcohol concentration charts, and depending on the limits enforced, if your blood alcohol level exceeds the permissible limit, you can face jail time.

Don't fool yourself into thinking a bottle of water, breath mints and coffee will help your body absorb alcohol faster. The only thing that does count is giving your body time to absorb the drink and not getting behind the wheel till then.