For years, research has shared the different ways that alcohol negatively affects the body. Yet, people still turn to alcohol for various reasons. The nonprofit organization Facing Addiction with NCADD found that unfortunately “17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, suffer from alcohol use disorder or alcohol dependence.”
This fact demonstrates just how many people rely on alcohol. Oftentimes, people don’t realize how much the alcohol they are drinking is affecting their bodies and minds. Because of this, we’ve decided to compose a guide about what exactly happens to your body at different BAC levels.
Don’t think that you’re invincible to the hazards of alcohol—below you’ll find information on how blood alcohol concentration affects your body.
Understanding Various BAC Levels
When ingested, alcohol impairs the body’s central nervous system, reducing inhibitions and response to stimuli. To measure alcohol’s effect on the body, one must determine the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream. For example, a BAC level of 0.1% is one-part alcohol per 1,000 parts blood. Below we’ll describe what happens to your body at each level.
Standard Drink Sizes
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- 12 ounces of beer is 5% alcohol content
- 8 ounces of malt liquor is 7% alcohol content
- 5 ounces of wine is 12% alcohol content
- 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits or liquor is 40% alcohol content
The standard drink has 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol in it—heavily affecting how people act and think.
BAC of 0.02%
The lowest level of intoxication, when someone has a BAC of 0.02% there will be a small impact on the brain and body. People with this blood alcohol concentration will feel effects in mood, have a slightly warmer temperature, feel relaxed, and will possibly make poor judgments.
BAC of 0.05%
A slightly raised level of intoxication, at BAC levels around 0.05%, an individual’s behavior will become exaggerated. A typical symptom of this raised blood alcohol level is blurry vision—this will come into play as you lose control of small muscle functions. Individuals will have problems with concentration and coordination at this level.
In fact, this past year Oregon has been debating whether to lower the legal drinking limit to 0.05%, as the effects at this level can heavily impair driving.
BAC of 0.1%
Individuals with this BAC are at a considerable and visible level of intoxication. A person’s thinking and reasoning will be much slower, which are a symptom of the brain’s inability to react and the nervous system’s inability to stay in control. This BAC is where most people will often note slurred speech.
BAC of 0.2%
This BAC level is when individuals begin to blackout. A person may participate in events that they won’t remember as high levels of confusion and disorientation are prevalent. This hazardous and high level of alcohol in your system will change the ability to sense pain and impair the gag reflex. Nausea, vomiting, and harm are likely to occur, as you won’t be able to recognize or control things happening to you.
BAC of 0.3%
Stupor sets in at this stage—your brain will essentially shut down, so people will think you’re awake, but internally, it’s like you’ve passed out. You will be unresponsive to all stimuli and you will have an incredibly difficult time recognizing and understanding people around you.
BAC of 0.4% or Above
A blood alcohol percentage this high puts people in comas and can even cause sudden death. Either the heart or breathing will stop suddenly, ending a life.
If you or someone you know has an alcohol abuse problem, reach out to various rehab facilities. If an individual has made mistakes, and you’re in need of a lawyer, talk to Jared Justice—a top-notch Clackamas County criminal defense attorney.