Alcoholism And Alcohol Consumption: How Much Is Too Much?

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Alcoholism is a condition characterized by a dependence on alcohol. It is a chronic medical disorder that is caused by continuous consumption of large amounts of liquor. But when exactly can one say that he or she is drinking too much?

Experts from the Kaiser Wellness Center headed by its addiction rehabilitation specialist Dr. Maher Soudah weigh in on the amount of alcohol a person can tolerate and how they become alcoholics.

Determining What Is “Safe” In Alcohol Consumption

There are different standards for measuring drinking levels all over the world. In the United Kingdom, experts define “safe” alcohol consumption levels at not more than 14 units of alcohol in a period of one week. However, one alcohol unit cannot be explained as an equal to one glass drink as it depends on the type of liquor and size of the glass involved.

In the United States, the government defined “safe” alcohol drinking at 1 drink per day for females and 2 drinks for males, per the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020” from the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Agriculture. This amount is still considered at a “moderate level” of drinking.

Alcohol Tolerance Factors

While there are already standard metrics in determining what is within the safe line in alcohol consumption, experts explained that a person’s tolerance to the substance changes over time, depending on specific circumstances. In fact, Dr. Soudah and his team reiterated that there are several factors that determine whether or not a person can get drunk easily.

1. Size

A person’s size— or more specifically, his or her body mass index— is one of the determining factors of alcohol tolerance. In general, an individual will be able to metabolize one drink of alcohol per hour, but a bigger and heavier person would feel its effects a bit later because of his or her size.

2. Gender

Saying that women are less tolerant to alcohol than men is more than sexism— it is supported by science. According to experts at the Kaiser Wellness Center, females get intoxicated quicker because their bodies have less alcohol dehydrogenase, the enzymes responsible for breaking down alcohol during the metabolism process.

3. Ethnicity

Some scientists support the idea that different races have varying alcohol tolerance. Russians, Romanians, and the Irish are deemed to have the highest alcohol tolerance while Asians tend to get drunk more easily in comparison. This is because of different races have varying genetic makeups and metabolic chemicals in the body. Asians, for example, are said to have a mutation in their genes on the enzyme acetaldehyde dehydrogenase.

4. Age

A person’s age is also a major factor in his or her alcohol tolerance because it brings about biological changes in the body. Those in their 30s, as well as women who have passed through their menopausal phase, are more likely to get drunk than those considered in their “prime age.” Again, this involves chemical alterations in the body. In a postmenopausal lady’s case, it involves lower levels of the hormone, estrogen, that slows down metabolism.

5. Mood

Emotions and feelings also affect a person’s alcohol tolerance in a sense that those who feel sad, angry, or anxious can get drunk a lot quicker than those who are happy or excited. This is because a person’s mood brings about change in enzymes present in the stomach that is responsible for breaking down alcohol.

6. Rate Of Consumption

The rate of consumption is another factor to consider when determining a person’s alcohol tolerance because those who chug down liquor bring about an “overdosing” effect in the body which causes it to shut down. Experts revealed that the human liver can only sift through one standard-sized drink in a period of one hour so drinking a lot quicker than that would mean getting drunk quickly.

7. Food And Other Drinks Consumed

Individuals who drink without eating anything beforehand have a higher chance of getting drunk in just 30 minutes while those who took a full meal have at least one hour. However, people who mix liquor with bubbly drinks and soda tend to get drunk a lot faster because these beverages hasten the absorption of alcohol in the body.

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