Blood Alcohol Concentration

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Alcohol is a drug that is illegal until the age of 21. It is considered a sedative hypnotic drug which means it acts to depress the central nervous system at high dosages. Although, at lower doses it can act as a stimulus - leading to being talkative, and happiness. Drinking too much alcohol in one sitting can lead to serious consequences such as, alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning takes control of your body making it shut down and takes over your simple functions such as: breathing, heart rate, and temperature control. Consuming this much alcohol could cause you to have seizures, loss coordination, and/or uncontrollably vomiting. Women are more likely to experience alcohol poison due to their BAC content, where men are much higher; it would likely take men 15+ drinks to achieve being this intoxicated. Alcohol has effect on every organ in the body, but the effects are relied on the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) overtime. You can feel the presents of alcohol 5-10 mins after first swallow, the peak occurs during 30-90 mins.

How does alcohol affect your blood? Once alcohol is consumed it immediately goes into a small vessel on your tongue, which then 20% of the alcohol will travel to your stomach/intestines. If there is no food in the stomach it will stay in the stomach for longer and absorb more in the stomach lining because the alcohol needs to be broken down before moving towards the intestines. 75%-85% of the alcohol will remain in your intestines causing it to be in your blood; the other percentage will leave your body through your skin, breath, or urine. This is how the BAC is calculated; and the faster, and more you consume will only amplify the content. The individuals index also comes into play: the body type, gender, age, and how well their liver can break down alcohol. Heavy consumption of alcohol can lead to death. The liver can only break down so much at a time, per hour is usually on one drink the liver can handle.

Underage drinking is a persistent public health problem in the United States. Alcohol use initiation rates for children rise quickly from age 10 up to about age 13, when they reach more than 50 percent. Subsequently, initiation rates begin to slow again (Kosterman et al. 2000). Moreover, alcohol is the most commonly used drug among adolescents. For example, among eighth-grade students (who are ages 13 to 14) surveyed in the 1999 national representative sample of the Monitoring the Future study, 52 percent reported having consumed alcohol in their lifetime, and 25 percent reported having been drunk in their lifetime. In addition, 24 percent of the eighth graders reported having used alcohol in the past month and 9 percent reported having been drunk in the past month (Johnston et al. 2000). These rates are higher than those for use of tobacco or any illegal drug (Johnston et al. 2000).

How Did the Drinking Age Become 21?

National Drinking Act of 1984 is why the drinking age in the United State is 21. Centuries ago becoming 21 was the age that someone became an adult being able to do whatever they wanted. Although, during World War II Franklin Roosevelt changed the drinking age from 21 to 18. This is also when traffic fatalities were rising among 18-20-year old. Organizations such as mothers who were against drunk driver lead to the decision making of changing the legal age to 21. President Reagan signed the National Drinking age in 1984 back to 21. Drunk related driving under the age of 21 has decreased as low as 80 percent.

Blood Alcohol Concentration

It is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over 0.00. For persons older than 21 the BAC is 0.08, and if it is considered more while in a moving vehicle you will be charged with driving while intoxicated (DUI); if you are in any altercation above this BAC you will be charged with being criminally impaired. When factoring in BAC you must consider the following: Weight, Gender, Food, Amount of alcohol consumed, tolerance, time frame, mood, and for women menstruation. Keep in green (.00-.04) relaxed feeling/ slightly impaired. Be careful approaching yellow (.07-0.16) impair, slurring, losing balance, vomiting. Avoid red (.20-.35+) blackout, coma, can lead to death. Although, underage drinkers do not need to exceed any amount of consumed alcohol to have negative consequences. Adolescences cannot blow anything above a 0.00 – anything above will be considered illegal.
Elizabeth and Anthony found that, Drinking establishments generally do not provide data regarding the average number of alcoholic beverages one must consume to reach or exceed the legal limit. While drinkers are familiar with the legal limit, they are likely less aware of the relationship between quantity of alcohol and resulting BAC. Despite this, drinkers are expected to adjust their consumption accordingly if they plan to drive. Without training, drinkers are very poor estimators of BAC, and generally make inaccurate decisions about legal driving ability

How Alcohol Affects the Major Organs

Alcohol has immediate effects on your body which can alter your subconscious ten minutes after the first sip. Excessive assumption can lead to disease or cause effect major body organs. Drinking moderately does not conclude the following (two drinks for men/one for women) * All alcoholics are different, impairment ranges, and some diseases do not affect all.
The heart: Drinking too much can lead to heart failure, high blood pressure, and can affect your calorie intake (leading to obesity). Drinking excessively can lead to a stroke, and possible death. Heart disease rates are lower in moderate drinkers than it is in nondrinkers. However, if you testify those numbers you are at a greater risk for obesity, stroke, and increase of blood pressure. It is also stated that if you try to decrease your drink number it can reduce your chances of a stroke. The brain: Some actions are noticeable after a drink or two such as being dizzy, slurring your words, and slow reaction time. May alcoholics develop problems with their thiamine deficiency, causing them to have serious brain disorders such as Wernicke - Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS). WKS is caused by lack of B vitamin thiamine which plays a role with producing energy for the brain.

Drinking while pregnant can also lead to difficulty in brain developments of your offspring, and can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome. The liver: Your liver can actually handle small amounts of alcohol, but if consumption is too much your liver cells won't know how to break down the alcohol. When the alcohol reaches the liver, it was already converted to toxic enzymes which can cause permanent damage to liver if not processed. Being that alcohol dehydrates you, and the liver needs water to function properly - the liver must find water sources from somewhere else (the brain). So, the enzymes not only damage the liver but brain. There are other effects to be worried about such as: Fatty liver, Cirrhosis, Hepatis, and Viral Hepatitis.
The kidneys: Kidneys affect your blood, and alcohol can change the functions of kidneys making it less likely to filter your blood. Considering alcohol dehydrates you, it dries out may of your organs including your kidneys affecting your blood pressure - causing kidney disease. Acute kidney injury is caused by binge drinking, raising a person's BAC level to dangerous levels, and dropping the kidney - it can be healed over time, or it can permanently damage the kidney.
Pancreas: Acute pancreas// Gets better over time, pain that spreads from stomach to back.

Chronic pancreas// Becomes inflamed and stays that way - doesn't recover. Weight loss, pains from stomach to back, and errors bowel movement.
Based on extensive reviews of research studies, there is a strong scientific consensus of an association between alcohol drinking and several types of cancer. In its Report on Carcinogens, the National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services lists consumption of alcoholic beverages as a known human carcinogen. The research evidence indicates that the more alcohol a person drinksparticularly the more alcohol a person drinks regularly over timethe higher his or her risk of developing an alcohol-associated cancer. Based on data from 2009, an estimated 3.5 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States (about 19,500 deaths) were alcohol related.

Underage Drinking

Again, being that it is a law in United State is 21 if you caught drinking under the age of 21 you will deal with consequences. In contempt to phrase alcohol, consume alcohol, or possess alcohol, you will be charged with a misdemeanor and be fined up to $1,000. If motor vehicle is involved jail time, and/or licenses of the individual will be revoked. The penalties only worsen if found guilty of this crime another time around.

Unprotected Sex

Underage drinking can also lead to serious injuries, and sometimes cause death. Drinking can lead to car accidents, alcohol poisoning, serious health problems, and trouble with the law. More than half of American teens consume alcohol at a young age, studies show that teens that consume alcohol suffer from anxiety/depression, violent crimes, or are involved with incidents containing alcohol. Young children who start drinking before the age of 21 are likely to commit suicide, engage in unprotected sex/sex with multiple partners, become violent, and/or have problems with alcohol later in life (alcoholism).

Adolescents get emotional satisfaction while drinking which tend to enhance their sexual desires, by seemingly making someone look more attractive. Youth who drink are likely to have sex at a young age, sex with multiple people, and unprotected sex with many people - leading them to unplanned pregnancy and/or STD's.
Melodee, from the Justice Department reports, Adolescents now represent half of all new cases of HIV/ AIDS (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2005). Underage drinking is considered a major contributor to the likelihood that those who engage in sexual activity after consuming alcohol will be more likely to contract an STD because of impaired decision-making capabilities. While intoxicated, youth and young adults are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, including having sex at a younger age, having unprotected sex, or having sex with multiple partners (Lopez, 2003). Youth themselves seem aware of this risk; one survey found that 52 percent of girls ages 13–18 who were surveyed listed STDs as a major health risk associated with drinking alcohol (Tildon and Kimball, 2005).

Violence, Homicide, and Suicide

It is proven that drinkers are more violent than nondrinkers. Drinkers are more likely to commit a physical violence such as homicide, sexual assault, and suicide. It's reported that teens who consume four or more drinks become more violent, and will carry a weapon with them. Homicide is the second most leading cause of death of youth between the ages of 15-24 years. Drinkers that drink before the age of 15 are more likely to gain a dependence for alcohol. Dating violence also occurs more with drinkers than nondrinkers, it's more likely to be hit or slapped by a loved one. Being forced to have sex with your significant other while they're drunk is also a factor. Although the rate of sexual assault is not high containing adolescents it's because may don't report due to being afraid of judgment. Drinking leads us to being emotional, which may lead to depressing thoughts of feeling hopeless - leading to attempted suicides.
Alcohol use among early adolescents has also been associated with a range of suicidal behaviors, including ideation, attempts, and completions. Windle used data from the National Adolescent Student Health Survey to investigate the prevalence of lifetime suicidal ideation and suicide attempts among male and female adolescents characterized as abstainers (i.e., did not drink in the past 30 days), light drinkers (ie, drank on 1–5 occasions in the past 30 days), or moderate/heavy drinkers (ie, drank on ‰?6 occasions in the past 30 days). For both male and female adolescents and eighth- and 10th-graders, a linear relationship was found between level of alcohol use and suicidal ideation and attempts. For example, among 10th-grade female abstainers, 33.5% had thought about committing suicide and 12.3% had attempted suicide. Among light drinkers, 52.0% had thought about committing suicide and 21.4% had made an attempt. Finally, 63.1% of heavy drinkers had thought about committing suicide and 38.8% had attempted suicide.


Adolescent drinkers tend to fall behind in academics due to missing classes and/or assignments, dropping classes or failing courses, expectations become minimum for student. Heavy drinking usually occurs during high school for major of children which is the most important year for an adolescent's life consider their grade point average (GPA) must contain a certain percentage to get into colleges. Student who attend a University are more likely to be heavy drinker during their first year of college. A great number of children are making permanent decision based on their drunken decision creating lifelong problems. 25% of college student are reported to have problematic issues due to alcohol.

Prevention of Underage Drinking

Although raising the drinking age in United States has had a positive effect amongst underage drinking, it will forever be a problem. Many adolescents see drinking as an activity and fail to think about the negative consequences that come with drinking. Drinking is a developmental factor of their genes or environment. Perhaps the only way to prevent underage drinking is to allow them to experience all the particular risk and factors that play a role with it. Underage drinker often runs into trouble and have to deal with their consequences. So perhaps the law should charge adolescent with the highest possible charge, so they can learn the first time around. Also, noticing it's a problem and sending the child to get help. It's been reported that children who are depressed are the first ones to pick up a drink, so that should be taking into consideration and should get the help they need. Youth need the eye opener of having greater influences and have the opportunity to better their surroundings. Actions towards the individuals need to be taken more seriously.

Environmental precautions have already been taken into consideration with higher the alcohol prices, leading to lower percentages of alcohol consumption. Higher the drinking age to 21 saving 700- 1,000 people annually. Stepping up law enforcement laws and creating zero tolerance zones. Creating prevention programs such as family-based prevention, and school-based prevention - lowering the chances of peer pressure, or biological cravings. Alcohol is going to always be available, and accessible to children. Alcohol is a part of life, and many will experience drinking before the age of 21, but it is important that if you are in fact caught there will be consequences with the law, and/or keep your consumption at the rate of your blood alcohol concentration.

In the case of long-term negative outcomes, the key question is whether reducing underage drinking would also reduce those outcomes. To the extent that individual vulnerability plays a large role, merely delaying the onset of drinking would not necessarily have much of an effect; the vulnerable people would eventually end up as problematic drinkers regardless of when they started. Moreover, many underage individuals who start heavy drinking in their late teens give it up as they reach their late 20s and 30s. The committee has carefully considered the evidence on this important issuethe extent to which early drinking causes later drinking problems, reduces them, or has no effect at all. Clearly predisposition and early alcohol use interact, and the effect of alcohol varies according to the degree of vulnerability of different individuals. However, notwithstanding the complexity of the inquiry, the committee concludes that the evidence establishes a prima facie case regarding the negative effects of early drinking on long-term welfare.

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Blood Alcohol Concentration. (2019, Nov 08). Retrieved July 23, 2024 , from

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