Drinking this much alcohol can make you drunk


Dizzy vision, light-headedness, and slurry speech — if you are experiencing these symptoms after a fun binge-drinking session with your friends as you relax after a hectic week at work, chances are you are drunk!

Whether to celebrate a special occasion or simply unwind after a long day, many people don’t mind sipping on some beer, wine, or cocktail, among other alcoholic drinks. According to the National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5), overall 1 per cent of women aged 15 and over drink alcohol, compared to 19 per cent of men in the same age group.

While drinking in moderation, occasionally, is not linked to extreme harmful effects, it could have negative consequences if done in excess. As such, one must be aware of their drinking capacity and how their body reacts to alcohol. Knowing how much alcohol can make you drunk will, therefore, help avoid overdrinking and the resultant effects.

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Ever wondered how to determine that? It depends, say medical experts. While some may feel intoxicated after just a few sips, others might gulp down glasses without feeling anything. “Regular intake of alcohol changes the metabolism of alcohol and, thus, a larger amount of alcohol is required for a person to feel its effect. On the other hand, elderly people may have a higher effect even in lower doses. Female metabolism is different and they get toxic effects at lower doses,” said Dr Pankaj Puri, Director, Gastroenterology and Hepatobiliary Sciences, Fortis Escorts, Okhla, New Delhi.

Detailing the various factors alcohol intoxication is dependent on, Dr Sandeep Satsangi, Consultant Hepatologist and Liver Transplant Physician, Apollo Hospitals, Bangalore, said, “The amount of alcohol needed to consume to get drunk depends on various factors – the type of alcohol, dilution used, speed of drinking, and whether one is drinking on an empty stomach or not. Women can attain higher concentrations of alcohol in the blood and become more impaired than men after drinking equivalent amounts of alcohol.”

The amount of alcohol needed to consume to get drunk depends on various factors (File)

However, the amount of alcohol ingested into the body continue to be one of the most significant determinants of intoxication. “Most people can exhibit a certain degree of sedation and motor impairment at a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10 per cent. Any consumption of over 20 gm per day is considered significant and potentially harmful. 30 ml of whiskey, 100 ml of wine, 240 ml of beer roughly correlates up to 10 gm of alcohol,” he explained.

Additionally, Dr Satsangi highlighted that the effect of alcohol may get accentuated if a person is on medications, such as antidepressants. “Woman would get drunk on about 30 per cent less alcohol than what would be required for a man due to different body composition and enzymatic levels,” he added.

Agreed Dr Karthik S M, Consultant Physician, Narayana Health and said, “In India, intoxication is defined at 0.03 per cent per 100 ml. Women, due to lower body mass and metabolism, can have more alcohol-related complications compared to males and, hence, the safest limit would be as low as possible, preferably less than 1 drink per day.”

While many continue to drink till they can’t handle it anymore, it is crucial to understand that alcohol doesn’t show signs of intoxication right away. “The effects of intoxication depend on the time of absorption which may become slow with fatty meals. But, an approximate time of half an hour to one hour seems appropriate,” Dr Puri.

According to Dr Karthik, however, the time to get drunk also depends on factors such as the alcohol content of the drink, body weight, metabolism and how quickly the drink is consumed. “Intoxication can occur when 500 ml of beer (or 60 ml of whiskey) is consumed within 1 hour or 650 ml of beer (or 90 ml of whiskey) is consumed within 2 hours.”

How do you know you’re drunk? Intoxication has some unmissable early signs that can confirm you are drunk. According to health experts, these include — loss of inhibition, relaxation, talkativeness, and mild euphoria. In later stages, one can have blurry vision, difficulty concentrating, imbalance, slurred speech and nausea.

While many love the guilty experience of getting drunk, it can have severe health consequences. “Consuming significant quantities of alcohol daily (exceeding 20 gm per day) can lead to profound health implications. This can lead to fatty liver, hepatitis (liver inflammation), liver cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). Alcohol consumption can also lead to increased predisposition to cancers such as throat cancer, stomach cancer, and liver cancer,” Dr Satsangi said.

alcohol consumption Experts warn against consuming alcohol to the point of intoxication. (Source: Pixabay)

Dr Karthik added, “In younger people, reasons for increased complications possibly were due to binge drinking and associated other high-risk behaviours. Consumption of 7 drinks in one day is more harmful than consuming 1 drink per day for 7 days.”

According to a recent study by The Lancet, males aged between 15 and 39 are at the greatest risk of harmful alcohol consumption worldwide. On the contrary, for adults over the age of 40 without underlying health conditions, consuming a small amount of alcohol (between one and two standard drinks per day) can provide some health benefits including reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes, the study suggested.

As such, one should be mindful of their drinking habits and alcohol quantity. According to Dr Shrey Srivastava, Internal Medicine, Sharda Hospital, the appropriate quantity depends on the kind of alcohol you are consuming. “Around 10 standard drinks in a week and not more than one standard drink in a day is the cut-off marker. One drink should be 15-30 ml,” he said.

Additionally, experts warn against consuming alcohol to the point of intoxication. “When consuming alcohol, consume it only in moderation (limiting to less than 20 gm per day). Avoid consuming it on an empty stomach and ensure your medical history (plus medication history) allows you to safely consume alcohol. In case of you are on any medications, kindly consult your health care professional about your risk of significant interactions with alcohol,” Dr Satsangi said.

On the day of consumption, Dr Karthik suggests consuming plenty of non-alcoholic beverages like water and juice and avoiding mixing different types of alcohol. To reduce its harmful effects, consume fibres in the form of salads. If drunk already, get adequate sleep and consume enough liquids to minimise the effects of a hangover, he said. “If there is recurrent vomiting and nausea after an alcoholic binge, prokinetic drugs and antacids can be given,” Dr Puri concluded.

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