Know the Facts: Alcohol
What’s in a drink?
One standard drink is an alcoholic drink that has 1/2 ounce of pure alcohol. One standard drink is:
- One 12-ounce beer (a standard can or bottle)
- Five ounces of wine
- One-and-a-half ounces of 80-proof liquor
What's Your BAC?
Blood alcohol content (BAC) is a measurement of how much alcohol is in your blood. Everyone's BAC is slightly different, even if they have the same amount to drink.
Many things impact your BAC.
- How much you drink: Obviously, the more drinks you have, the higher your BAC is going to be.
- How fast you drink: It's not just the quantity, but the time period. Your body can process approximately one drink per hour. Having several drinks in a short time will raise your BAC to a high level.
- How much you weigh: A higher body weight means a lower BAC. There is more blood volume to dilute the alcohol you consume. But, this doesn't mean you get to drink more.
- Your birth sex: Female bodies simply can't process alcohol at the same rate as male ones. This is due to several factors including body fat percentage, differences in hormones, and the fact that females have less of the stomach enzyme that breaks down alcohol.
- The amount of food you consume: Having food in your stomach means that alcohol will be absorbed more slowly, reducing your BAC.
- The mixer you choose: Mixers that have carbonation or artificial sweeteners, such as diet sodas and low-calorie sports drinks, will raise your BAC.
- Your medications: While it’s never a good idea to combine medications with alcohol, some will raise your BAC. The most common one that does this is hormonal contraceptives (“the pill”).
If your BAC gets too high, alcohol poisoning is a serious issue. Learn the symptoms and what you should do if this happens to a friend.
Check out possible BAC ranges for someone of your weight and gender, depending on how much you've had to drink. Or, pick up your personal BAC card from the PAWS.
In the state of Massachusetts, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 or higher, or 0.02 or higher if you are under age 21.