All 50 states recently adopted a .08% blood alcohol concentration limit as the new legal limit for DUI’s and DWI’s. This means that for a 140 lb person, more than two drinks before driving would get them into trouble with the law. While the drinking and driving limit is more or less cut and dry, drinkers that don’t plan to get behind the wheel later may understandably have a few questions about just how much is too much. A new study cited by PBS indicates that consuming more than six drinks per week generally leads to greater risk of premature death. To break that down, what would be the equivalent of six glasses of wine every seven days could very well lead to an increased risk of:
- heart disease
- heart failure
- fatal hypertensive disease
- and stroke.
The sweet spot here is just 100 grams of alcohol consumption a week. Not exceeding this mark could actually increase an individual’s life span by two years. While it’s clear that alcohol consumption should be kept to a minimum in general, it is understandably difficult for an individual used to heavy consumption to immediately cut down to such low intake levels. The goal here, then, is to understand exactly what happens to the body when a drink is consumed. While every human body is different, understanding this process should allow you to make a better informed decision as to when enough is enough. Setting a limit for yourself before you head out for drinks, and encouraging friends, family members, or whoever you’re drinking with to force you to stick to it is a great way to allow you to safely enjoy casual, recreational drinking while minimizing some immediately dangerous side effects. As a drink is consumed, it passes into the small intestine by way of the esophagus and stomach. The bloodstream then transports the alcohol throughout the body, where various tissues absorb it in various capacities. The speed at which it is absorbed depends entirely on how much alcohol was in the drink, and whether food was consumed with it. After absorption, the liver detoxifies and removes the alcohol from the bloodstream, before sending fluids to the bladder, encouraging urination, which can lead to dehydration and a hangover. The important thing to remember here is that most alcohol enters the bloodstream by passing through the walls of the small intestine. How “drunk” you get depends on the point in which your body begins to take in more alcohol than the small intestine can release. When you feel buzzed, take it as a warning sign that you’re consuming too fast, and too much!