What is Blood Alcohol Concentration?

Blood Alcohol Concentration or Content (BAC) refers to the percent of alcohol (ethyl alcohol or ethanol) in a person’s bloodstream. An individual with a blood alcohol concentration of .10% means that an individual’s blood supply contains one part alcohol for every 1000 parts of blood. The more alcohol an individual drinks, the higher their blood alcohol concentration will rise, and in turn, the greater the chances of health and safety dangers.

Explanation of Blood Alcohol Concentration Levels

Blood alcohol concentration can be measured in three ways – via blood testing, a breath test, or a urine test. An individual may get their blood alcohol concentration levels measured for legal reasons, such as a traffic incident or another type of incident where police may suspect that alcohol is playing a role. In addition, an individual may get their BAC tested for health reasons or by their employer.

As blood alcohol concentration rises, many side effects take place. An explanation of BAC levels includes:

  • .020 – Light to moderate drinkers begin to feel some effects
  • .040 – Most people begin to feel relaxed
  • .060 – Judgment is somewhat impaired
  • .080 – Definite impairment of muscle coordination and driving skills. This is the legal intoxication level in most states.
  • .100 – Clear deterioration of reaction time and control. This is legally drunk in all states.
  • .120 – Vomiting usually occurs
  • .150 – Balance and movement are impaired. Here the equivalent of a 1/2 pint of whiskey is circulating in the bloodstream.
  • .200 – Most people begin to experience blackouts
  • .300 – Many people lose consciousness
  • .400 – Most people lose consciousness and some die
  • .450 – Breathing stops. This is a fatal dose for most people.

Blood Alcohol Concentration in Standard Drinks

According to the NIAAA, one “standard” drink (or one alcoholic drink equivalent) in the United States contains roughly 14 grams of pure alcohol, which is found in:

  • 12 ounces of regular beer, which is usually about 5% alcohol
  • 5 ounces of wine, which is typically about 12% alcohol
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, which is about 40% alcohol

There are many factors that can contribute to a person’s blood alcohol concentration levels other than the type of alcohol they drink. These can include:

  • Weight. Typically, the more a person weighs, the more alcohol is needed to feel the effects of alcohol. Alternatively, the less a person weighs, the less alcohol it takes to become intoxicated.
  • Gender. According to the US National Library of Medicine, while men display a higher prevalence for alcoholism, it is women who suffer a much greater risk for alcoholism-associated bodily damage. Although women generally consume less alcohol compared to men, females usually suffer more severe brain and other organ damage following binge or chronic alcohol abuse.
  • Drinking patterns. BAC levels depend largely on the type of alcohol consumed, as such, drinking patterns play an important role in what the BAC levels of the individual are. The faster you drink and the more you drink, the more quickly your BAC levels will rise.
  • Genetics. Some individuals are more prone to high BAC levels, such as individuals of Asian descent whose enzymes break down alcohol at a lower level.

Dangers of Prolonged Heavy Drinking and High Blood Alcohol Concentration

Individuals who suffer from alcohol use disorder or frequently drink heavily run the risk of many dangerous health issues. These can include:

  • Accidental injury
  • Anxiety
  • Brain damage
  • Cancer, including breast, esophagus, liver, mouth, and throat
  • Death
  • Heart failure
  • Heart muscle damage
  • High blood pressure
  • Liver disease
  • Mental health disorders
  • Pancreatitis
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Suicide
  • Withdrawal symptoms

How to Manage Blood Alcohol Concentration

Luckily, there are ways you can manage your blood alcohol concentration levels. They include:

  • Abstaining from alcohol. Of course, the easiest way to avoid complications due to high blood alcohol content is to abstain from alcohol. This is especially true for individuals who have already run into complications with their drinking habits and are experiencing health and behavioral issues. By abstaining from drinking, many of these health issues can be reversed.
  • Practice moderate drinking habits. For those without alcohol use disorder, moderate drinking habits for adults is generally described as one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men.
  • Be as prepared as possible. On a night where more drinking than one or two drinks might be likely, it is important to be prepared. This includes spacing out drinks to one every hour, allowing your body enough time to process the alcohol and not become too intoxicated. In addition, it is important to eat a large meal and drink plenty of water to slow down the intoxication process.

About Cliffside Malibu

High blood alcohol concentration levels can lead to a range of safety, health, and behavioral concerns. Frequently high BAC levels can also lead to long-term damages to the body. If you or a loved one needs help abstaining from alcohol to reverse these effects, please reach out to our admissions office for more information.

Since no two addictions are the same, Cliffside Malibu offers an individualized treatment plan for every patient. We are committed to providing evidence-based treatment through a continuum of care model including medically supervised detox, residential treatment, day treatment, and outpatient services. Our program also includes family therapy and holistic therapy, as well. Whether an individual is suffering from substance abuse and/or alcohol addiction, our programs are structured to create a supportive environment where healing can begin.

In addition to world-class treatment, Cliffside Malibu offers luxury accommodations, a serene environment, five-star dining, and plentiful amenities. We understand that addiction treatment is a rigorous process. Therefore, we provide for your comfort and relaxation at every turn, allowing you to rejuvenate, and meet the demands of treatment with your greatest energy and attention.

For more information on Cliffside Malibu, visit cliffsidemalibu.com