EP #77

Alcohol & Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)

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In this episode of the Alcohol Minimalist podcast, host Molly Watts aims to help listeners change their drinking habits and develop a peaceful relationship with alcohol. She emphasizes the importance of understanding the science behind alcohol consumption and its effects on the body, advocating for mindful drinking within low-risk limits. Molly discusses various factors influencing a person’s ability to process alcohol, including age-related changes, medication interactions, and physical fitness. She highlights the impact of drinking on an empty stomach, the importance of being mindful of drinking pace, and the dynamic nature of blood alcohol content (BAC). Molly explains the biphasic effect of alcohol, detailing how different BAC levels produce varied effects on the brain and body. She debunks common myths surrounding strategies to improve BAC, such as cold showers and caffeine consumption.

Hey, it’s Molly from alcohol minimalist. What do you do in this October? I would love to have you join me in my more sober October challenge. What do I mean by more sober October, it simply means that we’re going to add in more alcohol free days than you currently been doing, whether that’s one or two or 31. It’s up to you, you get to set your own goal and that’s why it’s more sober October. You can check it out and learn more at get got sunnyside.co/molly It’s totally free. I’ve got prizes, I’m going to be going live every week to announce the prize winners. And it’s just going to be an awesome event. So I would love to have you join me. You can learn more at get.sunnyside.co/molly and you can get registered today. Welcome to the alcohol minimalist podcast. I’m your host Molly watts. If you want to change your drinking habits and create a peaceful relationship with alcohol, you’re in the right place. This podcast explores the strategies I use to overcome a lifetime of family alcohol abuse, more than 30 years of anxiety and worry about my own drinking, and what felt like an unbreakable daily drinking habit. Becoming an alcohol minimalist means removing excess alcohol from your life. So it doesn’t remove you from life. It means being able to take alcohol or leave it without feeling deprived. It means to live peacefully, being able to enjoy a glass of wine without feeling guilty and without needing to finish the bottle. With Science on our side will shatter your past patterns and eliminate your excuses. Changing your relationship with alcohol is possible. I’m here to help you do it. Let’s start now. Well, hello, and welcome or welcome back to the alcohol minimalist podcast with me your host, Molly Watts coming to you from oh my goodness, folks. It is glorious here in Oregon. And according to the beautiful weather forecast. We have like 10 days of full on sunshine to look forward to around here, including a weekend where we may see the 90s. Now, I just want to say a public service announcement right now for all Oregonians if you’re one of them, and you start complaining about sun and warm weather, the very first weekend that we have it and start wishing for the rain to come back. Just don’t please do not write. It’s okay. It’s not going to last forever. I wish it would. But I know I’m alone there. And awesome weather on the on the horizon, folks. And for those of you that have been listening for a while, you know, it’s it’s been a while coming this spring. So anyway, very excited about that. Hey, we have a prize winner this week M was OWOZZO left a very nice review on Apple podcast. Pretty sure I know that is from who that is from the Facebook group. Marco drop me an email with your address, and I’ll send you out your alcohol minimalist swag. And, folks, if you want to be entered into a prize drawing for some alcohol, minimalist swag, all you got to do is leave a review of the podcast wherever you listen to podcasts or review of the book, wherever you’ve picked that up and I will find it I will add you to the drawing. And you too could have your own alcohol minimalist swag. So please do thanks. Hey, I have one quick thing I want to talk about before we get into today’s podcast episode. And that is step one. Step one is something I’ve been working on it is coming out in July. And here’s what I’ve said about it. It is for self changers who want to quit worrying and start changing their drinking habits. It’s an unusual course that provides a framework for change that is personalized, self guided and supported, actionable, achievable and affordable. And there’s a special bonus for anyone that goes to my website, www dot Molly watts.com/step. One and puts their name on the email list to get information about it. All right, so go over to the website, Molly watts.com. That’s Molly with a why watts with an s.com/step, one all together all one word, and put your name on the list to just learn more about it. I think you might be surprised at what you find. All right. That is it. All of the Public Service Announcements all of the weather report all of the advertising, it’s done. Right. Today on the show. I’m adding to the Alcohol and series. It’s been a while since I’ve done an alcohol and if you aren’t familiar with them on Spotify, and on YouTube, there’s actual playlists for the alcohol and series. And I’ve done a bunch of them. You can go back and find alcohol and anxiety, alcohol and nutrition, alcohol and your sleep, alcohol and binging just on and on. There’s a there’s a lot of content in the alcohol and series. And today I am talking about alcohol and blood alcohol concentration, or blood alcohol content, BAC, whatever, whichever way you want to talk about it. Whichever way you want to say it, I should say be AC blood alcohol concentration or blood alcohol content. This conversation is going to be really kind of a microcosm of this podcast in general, I think I say that because it’s going to include some science, right? My basic belief is that if you’re going to include alcohol in your life, you need to understand both the neuro chemistry of alcohol and the neuroscience of the brain. For me, science helped me de personalize my drinking habit. Instead of seeing myself as weak willed, sick or broken, I was able to deconstruct the stories, I believed about alcohol, with the scientific facts and challenge my own thinking about what I believed was true with data and research. Ultimately, the science doesn’t change your behavior. You do that with your thoughts. But for me, science helped me change my thoughts, and ultimately created a completely different story about alcohol. So while the sober only people will tell you that having to count major, pay attention to alcohol by volume is exhausting and that being alcohol free is simply easier. And I will say that if that might be true, especially if you’re still trying to like game the system, right? If you’re trying to figure out how much alcohol you’re allowed to drink, so that you can over indulge, binge or numb out, then you’ve got work to do. on understanding what being a hashtag alcohol minimalist means. It ultimately isn’t a numbers game. Being an alcohol. Minimalist is about reducing alcohol is important, so that you so that it’s a very minimal part of your life. But because you can’t really achieve a minimalist mindset, without low numbers. This conversation for me is also intertwined. Now, as always, the safest amount of alcohol to consume is zero. There is no scientific argument about that. But since I choose to include alcohol in my life, low risk limits are what I adhere to. And back in episode number 73, I talked about where these limits come from. And I touched on blood alcohol content. But today I want to go a little deeper. There are three reasons that I believe it’s important to understand BAC specifically, number one, BAC is how the legal system defines whether or not you are intoxicated. This would apply to public intoxication, which most states have laws prohibiting. And then, of course, it also applies to driving under the influence or DUI, or whatever your state calls it, which all states have laws pertaining to. So if for no other reason than to protect yourself in a legal way, it’s very important to understand BAC. I also believe it’s important to understand BAC for other reasons. Number one, because it’s highly dynamic, and variable, and your own ability to process alcohol will change over time, and depending on your drinking levels, and you need to truly accept that and be in tune with your body whenever you drink. Number three, BAC impacts your behavior. This is a non negotiable fact and realizing what is happening and how long it will impact your behavior even after you stopped drinking is also an important part of the BAC conversation. All right, so that’s our y’s. What is BAC? BAC blood alcohol concentration is a measurement of the percentage of alcohol that’s in your bloodstream after you’ve been drinking. It’s your BAC, rather not the exact amount of alcohol that you’ve consumed. That will determine the effects the alcohol will have on you. In all states, the legal limit to draw It is point 08 or below actually lower in Utah, at or above that number is considered impaired. A person’s BAC level impacts their brain and behavior with higher blood alcohol level levels, resulting in a higher degree of impairment. So that’s the basic definition. And I think most of us probably have heard that before or understand, at least to some degree, what BAC is. But as much as you understand what it is, I can almost guarantee you that you do not understand how dynamic it is how unique your own ability to process alcohol is, at any given time, you’ve probably heard the general guideline that men can stay under the legal alcohol limit, if they limit themselves to two standard drinks in the first hour. And then one standard drink each hour afterwards. And for women, the guidelines recommend just one standard drink in the first hour, and then one drink each hour after, right. These are guidelines. And while they’re a good beginning, they’re a good beginning. The fact is that no one can rely on these guidelines without taking into account a bunch of other factors that can impact your own personal ability to process alcohol. Here are 10 or so. Actually, I think there’s more now because I think I added to them. Some of the factors that basically impact your ability to process alcohol and can affect your blood alcohol content, your blood alcohol concentration. All right, so you should always keep these in mind, especially if you’ve been drinking and you’re thinking about driving, which would be a very bad idea in most circumstances. And I mean, really, truly more than one drink, and you really shouldn’t be operating a vehicle period. All right. But that’s another conversation. I’m not I’m not talking about driving here, I’m just talking about the understanding how blood alcohol content impacts your body and your brain. Alright, so number one factor that can change your ability to process alcohol. Sorry, folks. But there is no denying that a person’s age can impact how alcohol affects them. As a person grows older, their body goes through a number of changes, which reduce how well they can process alcohol. And in turn, it can result in higher blood alcohol content readings. Okay, number two tolerance levels. The more a person drinks, the higher their tolerance for alcohol will be to put in another way, the more you drink, the more you can drink. For heavier regular drinkers, it can be harder to become intoxicated, because their bodies have grown used to constantly processing alcohol and it become more resistant to alcohol itself. For light drinkers. And this is especially important for those of you who are really working on cutting down alcohol heart are practicing being an alcohol minimalist, you may find that your tolerance is reduced, I know that has happened to me, I can simply not drink what I used to drink at all, in no way shape or form, it will have a much higher impact on me and I will begin feeling intoxicated much quicker. And so if you have been practicing your alcohol, minimalist actions and cutting back for a while, you’re going to have to pay attention as well. And for those of you that are drinking more, now, it doesn’t mean that this is good luck. I can drink as much as I want to. And it’s good to not impact my blood alcohol content. It’s just something to be aware of another factor that impacts blood alcohol content or blood alcohol concentration, your gender. Again, sorry, ladies, this is you know, if it’s if it’s, it’s a well, I shouldn’t say sorry, because it’s just the way it is right? There is no apologizing for it. Typically, men are able to generally drink more than women because they are usually taller and heavier. And because they therefore have a greater ability to absorb and process alcohol. But again, that isn’t just categorically true. And definitely, you want to make sure that you are paying attention to smushy if you are a smaller guy, if you’re more slight, you’re going to have a less high or you know, it’s just not automatic for you, right? It’s not automatic that you should you can drink more than somebody else. You also need to pay attention to what you’re drinking, right? The alcohol concentration or the alcohol by volume. Guidelines always refer to standard drinks and we’ve done a lot of information here on the show about what constitutes a standard drink. But many people forget this point, right? They tell themselves they are allowed a certain number of drinks like a certain number of 12 ounce beers, right? This is something I see all the time I’ve done it with myself. Just counting two pints of an IPA is two drinks is not correct, it isn’t. It’s more like three and a half standard drinks. All right, so don’t do it that you’ve got to pay attention. Those IPAs and craft beers have a higher alcohol by volume. And you have to take that into account. Just like you have to take into account if you’re getting much more than a five ounce standard, you know, a five ounce pour on a glass of wine. If you’re having a big glass of wine, that’s going to count at least as two standard drinks. So pay attention to both the alcohol by volume and how much you’re drinking. In terms of that. Another factor that impacts blood alcohol concentration, or blood alcohol content is your body type. Everyone has a unique body type. Some are tall and lanky, and some are short and overweight, or any combination in between. And your body type can impact your blood alcohol levels, because different body types have different abilities to process alcohol. Again, a tall and overweight person may be able to drink more and stay under a legal limit than a short and skinny person, right, simply because of their body types. And that kind of pairs with the next one, which is metabolism. Just like body types, people have different metabolic rates. This simply means that some people’s bodies are better at processing toxins like alcohol through the body than other people. While metabolism can play a role in a person’s body type, right? It does not mean that you can pick up person’s metabolism rate just by looking at their bodies. All right. In the same way, you can’t predict your own metabolic rate. And therefore you should keep it in mind that you might not be very efficient at removing alcohol quickly from your body. And so that’s something to know about yourself. And you’ve probably gained a little bit of experience with drinking that you at least if you start to pay attention and become aware, as we’re having these continued conversations really noticed that another factor that could impact your blood alcohol content is if you’re taking some sort of medication, some medications can exaggerate the impact of any alcohol that has been consumed. Not only is it dangerous, but it also increases your risk of increasing your blood alcohol content. So please pay attention. If you’re taking any medication, you should probably check with your doctor or stay away from alcohol altogether. Another factor that can impact blood alcohol content is carbonation. Carbonated drinks, such as sparkling wine and beer allow alcohol to be more easily absorbed into a person’s bloodstream than non carbonated drinks. So you should always take into account the type of alcoholic drink you’re drinking, before you make a decision about whether you’re going to have another one, right? These are things that you need to consider when determining how it’s impacting your blood alcohol content. Another factor that can affect so you’re hearing me, you know, list one after another after another, all these different factors, right. So guidelines, great to have important to know. But you’re going to have to pay attention to all of these different factors each and every time you drink. That’s just part of it. Right? That’s just part of being a good steward of our bodies, and understanding what we’re doing. So food, you can, a person will have a higher blood alcohol level if they drink on an empty stomach. Not hard to understand, right because there’s less food there to absorb the alcoholic drink. And because there are less barriers between your body and the alcohol itself. If you know you’re going to drink, you should plan ahead and have some food. This will hopefully not only reduce the impact of the alcohol while you’re drinking, but it might give you the added benefit of just not going overboard or having the negative consequences impact you even the following day. Another factor for blood alcohol content is how fit you are fit and healthy people have less toxins in their body, and also have a greater ability to pump blood throughout their system. An active person is also less likely, quite honestly to be a regular drinker. And this means that athletes and those who live healthy lifestyles will be more strongly impacted by alcoholic drink than those who are inactive. Right? So it’s important to understand if you are able to pump alcohol through your body faster because you’re in better shape and you also don’t drink as much on a regular basis. You may actually have a much higher blood alcohol content quicker than somebody who is less fit. This is not an this is not a suggestion that you should therefore become less fit so that you can enjoy alcohol more, not at all. Let’s go the opposite way. All right. Another factor that is going to impact your blood alcohol content is your speed of drinking. If you are chugging, alright, chugging something, it significantly increases your risks when you’re drinking in general. And because it means that the more you drink in a shorter period of time, you are more likely that your system will not be able to metabolize the alcohol and will instead shut down. So you have got to the speed at which you drink definitely impacts your blood alcohol content. So what did you think about that list? That’s a lot of reasons to that are outside factors, right, that can impact your blood alcohol content. And obviously, it shows that blood alcohol content is very dynamic and variable, and you have to pay attention basically each and every time you drink. That’s why I constantly say that every time you drink is like your own petri dish experiment, you need to pay attention, you need to look at it with the eyes of a scientific observer, this isn’t a criticism or you know, something negative, we need to just pay attention. Now we’ve talked about all these different dynamic variables that can impact our blood alcohol content, I want to look at the nuance and the fine lines between the different levels of blood alcohol content, and what happens in your brain and body. You’ve heard me say on this podcast many times, talk about the biphasic effect of alcohol. You’ve heard me talk about a therapeutic limit of alcohol being around 0.055%, which for most people is going to be one to two drinks. Now I’m going to link a few charts in the show notes today. And I’m going to add this caveat. Every single one of them basically says that your experience may be different. And what is being shown is a general guideline, I think we’ve covered that idea. But basically, there is no guarantee that your blood alcohol content will be the same as the guidelines. Even if you weigh the same drink at the same pace, and are the same gender, right, you have to pay attention and be cognizant of the things we’ve just discussed, as to how your drinking might be different on any given day. What is more consistent across these charts, is what happens in your brain and body. When you or any humans reach specific levels of blood alcohol concentration. Here’s what the charts explain. At 0.20 That’s what light to moderate drinkers will begin to feel some effects. At point 040 Most people will begin to feel relaxed at point 060 So now we’ve crossed the threshold of point 055. Right. And that is when judgment is somewhat impaired. At point 080 definite impairment of muscle coordination and driving skills. This is the legal intoxication level in most states, as I just said, except for Utah, which I believe is point 050. At point 100, there is a clear deterioration of reaction time and control. This is legally drunk in all states. At point one to zero. Vomiting usually occurs how happy at point 150 balance and movement are impaired. This is basically you have the equivalent of a half pint of whiskey being circulating in the bloodstream at point 150. At point 200 Most people begin to experience blackouts at point 300 Most people will lose consciousness at point 400 Most people will lose consciousness and some people will die. And it point 450 Your breathing stops and it is a fatal dose for most people. So obviously, we understand that blood alcohol concentration is important right? It’s important because alcohol is a known neurochemical agent and it’s a known toxin to the body. So we have to pay attention to what’s happening. The last part of this conversation I want to have around BAC is some of the myths that surround improving blood alcohol concentration or sobering up if you’ve reached one of those higher levels of intoxication. Unfortunately, the only thing that will lower BAC one Once you have caused it to rise to those levels, by drinking alcohol is time, alcohol can still be detected in your blood for up to 12 hours after you consume it. All right. These these myths drinking water, drinking water does not help reduce BAC. It is important to note that all of these strategies like taking a cold shower sleeping, consuming caffeine, they do not work to lower blood alcohol content. The only thing that can help alcohol leave your bloodstream is time. Now food, it does change how your body processes alcohol, but not how fast it can do it. When alcohol hits an empty stomach, it will move right through and quickly head to the small intestine and bloodstream. You will feel more intoxicated and may noticed stronger toxic effects such as an upset stomach or a hangover. But on the flip side, alcohol makes the out mean food makes the alcohol hanging out in your stomach for a while your stomach gets time to break down some of the alcohol before it moves into the small intestine. And you can avoid some of alcohols toxic effects, but it won’t change how soon you can pass an alcohol test. All right, hear me on that it will not change how fast you can pass a test if you are past that point, 08 limit. All right, so don’t make that mistake. Alcohol is also a depressant drug. So it makes you feel drowsy. So people think that if they drink caffeine, which is a stimulant, it can pick you up and reverse some of alcohols effects not true. Despite that opposite relationship. caffeine and alcohol do not mix. Mixing coffee or any energy drink with alcohol might make you feel less intoxicated. But you can also lose track of how much you’ve had to drink and it will not clear alcohol from your system any faster. So again, it might make you feel less intoxicated, but you won’t be and that blood alcohol content will still be as high as it was right. So my last thoughts here on blood alcohol content. I’m sharing this information with you because I fundamentally believe that understanding alcohol and how temperamental your own body’s reaction to it is an important part of changing your relationship with it. There is true science at work in terms of what happens when we drink and what happens in our brains. And if you’re going to include alcohol in your life, you should be educated about it. becoming more aware of this science really just helps us embrace our own power that we have in our beautiful human brains to create peace. Alright, my friends, that is all I have for you this week. I would love to hear from you. I would love to hear if this podcast is helping you or if you have something that you’re questioning about alcohol that you’d like me to cover on the podcast. Please send me a note Molly at Molly watts.com. Let me know what I can answer for you if you have specific questions about how to change your relationship with alcohol. I want to hear from you. Until next time, choose peace. Thank you for listening to the alcohol minimalist podcast. This podcast is dedicated to helping you change your drinking habits and to create a peaceful relationship with alcohol. Use something you learned in today’s episode and apply it to your life this week. Transformation is possible you have the power to change your relationship with alcohol now, for more information, please visit me at www dot Molly watts.com