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This activity is designed to get students to understand a few important concepts about alcohol and intoxication. Please answer the questions below on the student journal activity sheet for activity 4.
Supplies: paper and pencil

Access the Student Journal for Activity 4

Activity #4 - Questions for Discussion and Debate.  
You may want to print this present Web page for reference.

Alcohol (ethyl alcohol) is the intoxicating ingredient in beer, wine, and liquor. When drinking these beverages, the alcohol is absorbed (rapidly) into the blood and is carried to the brain. The amount of alcohol in the brain is proportional to the amount in the blood. That is why law enforcement officials have blood alcohol tests performed on people suspected of drunk driving and certain other legal offenses.

The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is expressed as a percentage of alcohol in blood. For example, if there is 1 ml of alcohol in every 1000 ml of your blood, then your BAC is 0.1% (1/1000 x 100% = 0.1%).

The same amount of alcohol is present in one bottle of beer, one glass of wine, or one shot (1.5 ounces) of liquor. Each of these is defined as "one drink."

The table below shows several things:

1. The BAC after various numbers of drinks (defined as above)
2. How body weight affects the BAC
3. How BAC changes with time after the last drink
 
# Drinks (as defined above) Body Wt. (lbs.) BAC - 1 hr after last drink BAC - 3 hrs after last drink
2 100 .06 .02
  120 .05 .01
  140 .04 .01
  160 .04 0
  180 .03 0
  200 .03 0
3 100 .10 .06
  120 .08 .04
  140 .07 .03
  160 .06 .02
  180 .05 .01
  200 .05 .01
4 100 .13 .10
  120 .10 .07
  140 .09 .06
  160 .08 .04
  180 .07 .03
  200 .06 .03
5 100 .16 .13
  120 .13 .10
  140 .11 .08
  160 .10 .06
  180 .09 .05
  200 .08 .04
6 100 .19 .17
  120 .16 .13
  140 .13 .11
  160 .12 .09
  180 .11 .07
  200 .10 .06

Numbers in red meet or exceed the legal definition in most states of intoxication. BAC can vary depending on how rapidly the drinks were consumed, how much food was in the stomach, and the drinking history (which can produce some tolerance, which may lead to addiction).

How much the effect of alcohol is depends on how the drinking is spread out over time. But alcohol is metabolized slowly, and the effects accumulate with each drink. In general, we can say that consuming the following amounts in a couple of hours can produce the following results:

  • Five drinks or more produce severe sensory (reduced awareness) and motor impairment (staggering).
  • 10 drinks or more produce BACs of .30 to .39 and cause stupor, unconsciousness, and death (for some).
  • 12 drinks or more produce  BACs of 0.40+ and cause unconsciousness, absence of breathing, and death. 


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