There are many factors which contribute to how quickly alcohol is absorbed, such as:
Body Size – Larger people tend to have more volume of blood, water, muscle etc., to dilute alcohol than a smaller person. Therefore, after consuming the same amount of alcohol, a smaller person will generally have a higher blood alcohol concentration.
Body Type – People with high amounts of body fat will have more alcohol in their blood since fat does not absorb alcohol, whereas muscle does.
Sex – Given equal variables, women generally will have higher concentrations of alcohol because they typically have higher percentages of body fat versus muscle mass than males. Also, women have less water content to help dilute alcohol and less of the stomach enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase. Alcohol dehyrogenase is what helps metabolize and break down alcohol.
Amount Consumed / Time – The faster one drinks, the faster alcohol is absorbed, which speeds up the rate of intoxication. In one hour, an average liver can process or eliminate approximately 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor, so if the amount consumed exceeds the rate of elimination, higher levels of BAC and/or intoxication will occur.
Concentration of Alcohol – The strength of a drink will determine the absorption rate. For example, a straight shot will be absorbed faster into the system than one mixed with juice. Alcohol is generally absorbed from fastest to slowest: Fastest being a straight shot followed by, carbonated mixer, water mixer and juice mixer.
Food – Food in the stomach will slow the absorption of alcohol. Foods high in fat and protein help slow alcohol from being absorbed into the bloodstream because they remain in the stomach longer.
Carbonation – Alcohol that is either carbonated or mixed with a carbonated beverage will absorb into the bloodstream faster than drinks that are not carbonated. Carbonation increases pressure in the stomach, which helps to force alcohol into the bloodstream via the stomach lining.
Other Drugs – Mixing other drugs with alcohol may cause unexpected reactions.
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Slide 19: Absorption Rate Factors